In the works of William Shakespeare, John Milton, and Elizabeth Gilbert, all stress finding who we truly are despite the obstacles and challenges that one may face. In Shakespeare’s sonnet, he tries to understand his love for a woman, but is unable, through words, to describe her. In Milton’s poem, the speaker has to overcome the challenges of his blindness. And, In Gilbert’s novel Eat Pray Love, the narrator has to determine who she is in a city across the globe. Through descriptive imagery, these three authors demonstrate their abilities to overcome their own obstacles.
In Shakespeare’s “My mistresses’ eyes are nothing like the sun,” at first glance, the poet seems to be describing her with lovely images such as roses, perfumes, music, and goddess. However, when I read the poem for the second time, I noticed that he in actuality was using those descriptions to describe what she is not. For example he states “I have seen roses damasked red and white/ but no such roses I see in her cheeks” to prove that he is only able to say what his lover is not (5-6). This illustrates that his love for the woman described in the poem is one he is not able to explain. It seems that by writing this poem, Shakespeare is attempting to determine his feelings for the unnamed women. Through Shakespeare’s descriptions of what his lover is not, we as readers are able to determine the speaker’s uncertainty of his love.
Milton’s “When I consider how my light is spent” illustrates a man who has to discover himself with a new found handicap—blindness. At the beginning of the poem, he questions what he should be doing with his life now that he was unable to see. This is seen when the speaker states “When I consider how my light is spent/ ere half my days in this dark world and wide” (1-2). Throughout the poem, the speaker seems to question why he was cursed with blindness and realizes that through God, he will have the patience and willingness to overcome his life’s obstacles and sees his disability as a newly discovered gift. The speaker illustrates his understanding of his new style of life with great detail and imagery.
In Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love, the main character Liz has to overcome the difficulties of assimilating into a new culture that she is not accustomed to. At lunch with her friends, she points out to them that she is not like typical Roman women. However, at this point of the novel when she is talking to her peers, she discovers that most people feel like they do not belong. By staying true to oneself, it allows for all of us to feel confident and able to fit in with society. These three works, in my opinion tie in with my life here in college. Overcoming obstacles allow us to become better individuals able to tackle any challenge that is thrown our way.