Fire and Ice: An Analysis of "Sonnet 30"
"Sonnet 30" by Edmund Spenser, is a poem about a man's desire to be with a woman who has no interest in him. This sonnet comes from Spenser's Amoretti, a collection of eighty-nine poems believed to commemorate the courtship and eventual marriage of his second wife, Elizabeth Boyle. Throughout "Sonnet 30" Spenser uses strong figures of speech to describe the conflict of the man's desire and the woman's disinterest.
To describe the feelings of the man and the woman, Spenser uses metaphorical comparisons of dramatically opposites, fire and ice. The fire represents the man and his burning desire to be with the woman, while ice represents the woman and her lack of interest in him. This contrast is best illustrated by lines 2-4: "How comes it then that this her cold so great/ is not dissolved through my so hot desire,/ But harder grows more I her entreat?" In these lines, the man questions why his burning love for the woman is not melting her icy heart. The more affection he shows for her, the less interested she is.
Spenser's metaphors of fire and ice create vivid imagery throughout the poem. His use of descriptive language paints a picture of a fiery man and a freezing woman, and helps you mentally experience the conflict the two are facing. The repetition of this imagery adds special meaning to "Sonnet 30." It gives a stronger emphasis of the emotions of the man and woman, and of the general message of the poem.
Spenser wrote in lines 9-10 "What more miraculous thing may be told/ that fire, which all thing melts should harden ice:" Here Spenser is using paradox, the principle figure of speech used in the entire sonnet . A paradox is a true statement that leads to a contradiction. In those lines, Spenser explains that the man's fire is not melting the woman's ice; it is only making it colder and harder. Spenser goes on in this stanza to explain that the woman's ice is increasing the man's fire and making it even...