Compare and contrast Wyatt’s and Spenser’s versions of Petrarch’s deer-sonnet, focusing on the representations of gender and sexuality.
In answering this question I will first outline the main points of Petrarchan poetry and I will then focus on the relevant points to compare and contrast Wyatt’s Whoso List to Hunt and Spenser’s Amoretti Sonnet in relation to their representations of both gender and sexuality.
Petrarchism can be defined as the way of writing love poetry (though not absolutely to be identified with) Petrarch’s poems to Laura, his Canzoniere and is a dominant convention in Renaissance love poetry. Within the Petrarchist conventions the woman was idealized as a goddess and an icon of physical and spiritual perfection (Dasenbrock , R. 1985).
Petrarchism was introduced in England by Sir Thomas Wyatt when he began to mimic Petrarch’s Rime Sparse in English. Wyatt’s poem Whoso List to Hunt is said to be about Anne Boleyn, with whom Wyatt had a relationship before the King became interested in her.
Later on Edmund Spenser also imitates the Petrarchist form; particularly I will be discussing his Amoretti Sonnet in which Spenser also idealizes his beloved. Petrarch had a desire to transcend Petrarchan love, Spenser is the first major Renaissance poet to share that desire, to want to imitate Petrarch in his shift away from being Petrarchan (Dasenbrock , R. 1985). Spenser clearly knew both the original, and Wyatt’s cynical inversion of Petrarch’s sonnet. His aim may therefore have been to show how loss can be made into gain through the giving of self. The deliberate echoes of Wyatt emphasise the transformative difference that a surrender of self can make. (Griffiths, M. 1998).
Both poems initially share the same plot, as both poems are derived from Petrarch's Rima 190 of his Rima Sparsa. A lot of the same imagery is used. The women in both poems are depicted as deers, the men saw women as their ‘prey’ and believed that they could...