Astrophel and Stella Themes & Motifs

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The Cruelty of the Fair

The cruelty of the fair is a common theme in early modern English sonnets, and was one of the major themes that was carried over from the sonnet's Italian predecessor, Petrarch. Before Petrarch, however, there were the troubadours: in Medieval Europe, troubadours were young (usually male) musicians skilled in both song-writing and song-playing alike. They are credited with inventing the notion of "courtly love," in that that there role was to perform for ladies at court in hopes of receiving favor or patronage. Their songs were typically, though not always, about the difficult power dynamic of a well-to-do (and often unavailable) woman to whom they felt bound to serve. As such, many of the troubadour songs from the period engage with the idea that the woman is granted full power over them and can manipulate their feelings however she sees fit, eliminating...

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This section contains 1,734 words
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