100 Love Sonnets = Cien Sonetos de Amor Characters

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100 Love Sonnets = Cien Sonetos de Amor Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on 100 Love Sonnets = Cien Sonetos de Amor by Pablo Neruda.

The Speaker, The Author, appears in Throughout

Such an intimate collection of poems brings the author to the fore. As the dedication so clearly indicates these poems are a gift from Matilde Urrutia from Pablo Neruda, the "speaker" of the poem and "Pablo Neruda" the poet and man are fairly indistinguishable. The speaker's most obvious trait is his eternal, passionate, and fierce love for his subject, Matilde. The 100 Love Poems, then, become the speaker's one-hundred attempts to express that which is inexpressible.

The speaker goes through many moods. The "Morning" section of poems features an upbeat, youthful, and exuberant speaker. Physical rather than spiritual love is many times the subject, and Matilde undergoes conceits that scale fabulous heights. "Afternoon" shows a more thoughtful, even pessimistic speaker, who realizes the wounds of love along with its delight, and who is able to appreciate a more spiritual and less physical love. "Night" features a somber, philosophical speaker, musing on the passage of time and the eternal nature of love.

The Speaker, or Neruda, is a chameleon of sorts, even within the span of a single sonnet, able to turn from beautiful lyricism to bawdy mischief within a stanza, or from delight to utter despair, reflecting the complexity of the love he is trying to convey.

The Subject, The Loved, appears in Throughout

Neruda's real-life love during the fifties and third wife, Matilde Urrutia is clearly the "you" of these Love Sonnets, the object of Neruda's great affection. She (and her body parts) are compared to a bewildering array of objects and phenomenon, most all of them occurring in nature, from honeysuckle and jasmine, to the stars and moon, to bread and wheat, and everything in between. It is clear from her seeming ability to infuse life, energy, and joy into the speaker, that she is the speaker's reason for living.

Physically, one senses Matilde has a handsome, earthy beauty rather than supermodel-type looks (Neruda in fact gently chides her for her small breasts and big mouth). As for particular traits, of frequent note is her "medusa-like" tangle of curly hair, which Neruda adores. As for personality traits, outside of unconditional love, and a unique, unnerving laugh that Neruda remarks upon, little can be divined. This lack of specificity is no doubt an effort to keep at least some parts of the lovers' life secret (the sonnets were always meant to be published), and a way to state that her love is all Neruda needs, and other qualities are unimportant and fall away. Otherwise, Neruda admires Matilde for her energy in doing chores around the house, and her energy generally. She is also shown helping Neruda find the right word in a poem when he is stuck, and she is a great cook as well.

Detractors, appears in Sonnets LVII, LVIX

Several times in the "Afternoon" Sonnets, Neruda speaks of liars and nay-sayers who attempt to interrupt his love with Matilde. Most probably these are both literary critics who pan his poetry and other writing, and those critical of Neruda's strong socialist/communist views and political statements. Neruda's instinct in the face of this criticism is to retreat inward, in a place away from such injury where he can be "alone together" with Matilde.

Acario Cotapos, appears in Sonnet L

This friend of Neruda and Matilde, a composer, is mentioned in Sonnet L as remarking upon Matilde's unusual and striking laughter.

The Girl, The Figurehead, appears in LXVIII

In Sonnet LXVIII, Neruda remarks upon a "wooden girl," or figurehead, he found among wreckage on the beach. This girl looks on into eternity and yet is not alive and therefore is not looking. Neruda is fond of these types of paradoxes.

My Ugly Love, appears in Sonnet XX

In Sonnet XX, and hinted elsewhere, Neruda gently chides Matilde as ugly, remarking upon her small breasts and big mouth, for example. This is most likely a move to simply dismiss such superficial traits and love Matilde not for physical features but the content of her character and the condition of her love.

Pre-Love Speaker Neruda, appears in Sonnets XXII, XXV

Neruda sometimes describes himself before the love of Matilde as a hungry puma stalking the streets for food, or a desperately lonely man or wounded bird who wanders the earth without aim or purpose. Love is then a salvation for this lost soul.

The Crowds in the City, appears in Sonnets LIV, LXII

Neruda frequently sets up a public sphere versus a private sphere. The public sphere, full of critics, cacophony, and prying eyes, is a place of violence and confusion. Only away from this pandemonium can the lovers enjoy peace and fully consummate their love.

The House, appears in Sonnets LXXV, LIII

Neruda's home at Isla Negra is personified with very human characteristics. Without the love and energy of the lovers when they are gone for periods of time, the house weeps, becomes dark, and dies.

The People of the Poor South, appears in Sonnets V, XXIX

Matilde hails from the southern part of Chile, a mountainous, rugged region, a hard place to live, where poverty reigns. Neruda feels this upbringing has influenced Matilde in a very positive manner, making her humble and more genuine than an upper-class upbringing would have

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