Heart of Darkness Tone

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Sir Philip Sidney wrote a sequence of sonnets regarding the thoughts of Astrophel who finds himself in love with a woman named Stella. Within the few starting sonnets, Sidney provides a progressing thought process between Astrophel’s ideas on love in sonnet 5, poetry in sonnet 6, and then thoughts of Stella in a physical sense in sonnets 7 and 9. Each poem possesses its own rhyme scheme and set of literary devices to support the words stated. Within sonnet 7, there is a plethora of metaphors, tone changes, a volta, and several forms of alliteration to show Astrophel’s thoughts and feelings. However, when each sonnet is read together as a sequence, they all form one clear theme: Reason versus Love. Astrophel is constantly battling his thoughts between what it truly logical versus his yearning heart and love for Stella.

Throughout Sir Philip Sidney’s 7th sonnet of Astrophel and Stella, it is clear to see that Astrophel is completely taken with Stella. The sonnet consists of 14 lines written with a rhyme scheme of ABAB ABAB CDC EEE. Although Astrophel does not mention the true significance until the Volta at the very end, he provides his audience with a unfathomable look into the significance of Stella’s eyes. The sonnet’s entirety is speaking metaphorically regarding Stella’s black eyes, starting with a paradox, “What Nature made her chief work, Stella’s eyes, / In colour black why wrapt she beams so bright? (Sidney, 1-2). In simple terms, why has Nature given Stella such black eyes, yet make them so full of light? Starting off with such a question brings the point across that her eyes are full of blackness/darkness but still “brightly beaming.”

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This shows a clear theme of love towards Stella and Astrophel trying to make sense of her, but contrasting the lines to those of sonnet 5, the theme is clearly seen. Astrophel states, “It is most true that eyes are formed to serve / The inward light, and that the heavenly part / Ought to be king, from whose rules who do swerve, / Rebels to nature, strive for their own smart” which contrasts his thoughts of Stella’s eyes (Sidney, 1-4). He is saying that we are meant to serve reason alone and that the eyes are meant to show the inner soul; virtue is beauty. However, in the first two lines of sonnet 7, Astrophel starts with a paradox wondering why Stella’s eyes are so black, yet shine so bright. Blackness is normally compared to darkness, and if the eyes are meant to show the inner, heavenly soul, why are Stella’s eyes so dark?

There is personification in the first line, “Nature made,” and alliteration within the second, “black, beams, bright,” to help the reader feel what Astrophel is feeling about Stella. He is wondering why Nature, possibly as in Mother Nature, gave her this beauty in the form of a beaming, bright black. Moving on to the next few lines, “Would she in beamy black, like painter wise, / Frame daintiest lustre, mix’d of shades and light?” hesitantly answers the initiating question of the sonnet (Sidney, 3-4). Why did Nature give Stella black eyes that were full of beaming light? It could possibly be for the purpose of beauty. Her eyes are a bright, gleaming, black that only adds to her beauty. In these two lines, Sidney could also be hinting at the metaphor that there can also be beauty in darkness or that there is sometimes beauty in death.

Here Astrophel is battling his heart and trying to make reason of his thoughts. She simply could have black eyes just because they add to her beauty, nothing more than that. Astrophel battles his logical reasoning against his love for Stella’s beauty in another sonnet where he builds on her beauty and then realizes that he is just like any normal person. In sonnet 9, it says, “Which CUPID’s self, from Beauty’s mind did draw: / Of touch they are, and poor I am their straw” (Sidney, 13-14). Sidney has Astrophel talking of Stella’s beauty through a variety of metaphors to describe Stella’s face until he comes to reason that Cupid drew her in Beauty’s image, while he is made like any other normal image.

This compares to sonnet 7 because as Astrophel tries to bring reason to why her eyes are so bright and black, he tries to bring reason back to just her being beautiful; he did the same thing in sonnet 9 after comparing her to everything from gold to marble. The alliteration in sonnet 7 also assists in this continuing metaphor of Stella’s eyes as well because putting “beamy” and “black” together again provides an understanding that maybe Stella’s black eyes really are just beautiful (Sidney, 3). However, lines 3-4 are formed into a question, which presents itself as a possible answer but not the confident one that gives significance to Stella’s beamy, black eyes. The following four lines are written the same way as lines 3-4; they are written in a form of a hesitant answer to the first initial question.

But, it still does not bring any significance to Stella’s eyes. There is also a continuous use of alliteration used in this set of four lines, starting with an “s” sound and then a “d” sound. By using these sounds, it gives an effect of emphasis on his words and causes the reader to feel the yearning feeling Astrophel has for Stella. Lines 5-8 say, “Or did she else that sober hue devise, / In object best to knit and strength our sight; / Lest, if no veil these brave gleams did disguise, / They, sunlike, should more dazzle than delight? (Sidney). What is being said here is that there is the possibility that Stella’s eyes are black in order to veil her sight from the brightness. Here Astrophel results his thoughts to reason versus love again. As mentioned in sonnet 6, “I can speak what I feel, and feel as much as they, […] When trembling voice brings forth that I do Stella love” Astrophel cannot help but love Stella and the only way he can express this love is through his voice (Sidney, 12-14).

Lines 5-8 show Astrophel thinking towards the idea that maybe Stella is just blocking out the “gleaming light” that is his love for her with her black eyes. Maybe she just does not want anything to do with him and his love for her, which in turn leads to the ending volta. The last rhetorical question is stated in lines 9-11 within sonnet 7. This is where Astrophel goes back to the idea that maybe Stella is just beautiful; he reverts back to love and viewing her outer beauty. His tone completely changes in these sets of lines compared to the first where he is simply asking the first rhetorical, unanswered question.

This is the start of the volta. First, he was wondering, and now he is reverting back to a feeling of suffering love. He states, “Or would she her miraculous power show, / That, whereas black seems beauty’s contrary, / She even in black doth make all beauties flow? (Sidney). He is saying that black is not normally a beautiful color, but maybe her black eyes are to show Nature’s true beauty; that there is beauty in darkness. The alliteration of the “b” sound assists with his feeling of “she is just beautiful and nothing else” feeling as well. Astrophel reverts back to this thought in sonnet 5 as well within lines 12-14, “True, that on earth we are but pilgrims made, / And should in soul up to our country move; / True, and yet true that I must Stella love” (Sidney).

He is saying that even though he knows love is on the inside, he cannot separate the logical reasoning from the love that is in his heart. This goes hand-in-hand with sonnet 7 with how Astrophel has no choice; he loves Stella and will always result any significance of hers to being beautiful. Her eyes have a disarming effect that is causing him to forget all reason. The last three lines of sonnet 7 ends with a statement answering Astrophel’s first initial question as to why Nature gave Stella such beaming black eyes. These lines say, “Both so, and thus, minding Love should be / Plac’d ever there, gave him this mourning weed / To honour all their deaths who for her bleed” (Sidney, 12-14). What Astrophel came to conclude is that her eyes are black because they are mourning for all the men who have died for her love.

In simpler terms, her black eyes can kill a man in love with her with just a simple glance. He concluded that his love for her will be the death of him because he is at constant war between what is rational and what his heart wants. Sidney provided this last statement in a confident sentence rather than a question, which changed Astrophel’s questioning tone to a complete, concluding thought. The end rhyme also is continuous for these three lines, ending with “be,” “weed,” and “bleed,” to show that this is one thought and it is the answer to the paradox the sonnet started with.

Between Sir Philip Sidney’s four sonnets, they all possess a similar tone where Astrophel starts out questioning, and then ends with a complete change in tone, Astrophel concludes that he will always love Stella no matter what. Sonnet 5 starts with him listing the truths of life, which is him thinking with reason, and then ending with him loving Stella. Sonnet 6 begins with Astrophel wondering how to sort his emotions without writing like every other love-sick poet; he then ends this sonnet saying that he can only express his love for Stella through voice, not through poetic devises.

Sonnet 7 is Astrophel speaking of Stella’s eyes and wondering why they are so black, trying to think with reason that maybe she is just a beautiful woman; he then ends the sonnet with believing that all men have suffered and died due to her eyes and beauty, and her eyes are black so she can mourn them. Sonnet 9 ends with Astrophel comparing Stella to rich furniture before he ends the sonnet with the comparison of Stella to riches and himself to a poor pauper with no chance at her love. Each sonnet is a battle between Reason and Love and they each end with the realization that Astrophel’s reason is no match for his love towards Stella. Astrophel will always love Stella no matter how much he tries to fight it and think rationally; he will always be in a constant battle with himself.

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Heart Of Darkness Tone. (2022, Feb 07). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/heart-of-darkness-tone/