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Petrarch: Lying Lover Or Lovable Loser?

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The customs of Petrarch's time period seem to suggest that he may be more of a lying lover than a lovable loser. In the thirteen hundreds, women were more often regarded as an object to be placed on a mantle than lifted to the type of pedestal that Petrarch has created for Laura. It would have been somewhat uncommon for someone to write ten sonnets proclaiming an undying love for a female, let alone hundreds, and so it is arguable that Petrarch may have been using Laura as an image to promote his work. However, it's indisputable that Petrarch's willingness to commit such an incredible amount of effort to his works for Laura suggests that he did have had at least mild feelings for her.

Petrarch had a tendency to go into incredible detail in describing his love for the unattainable Laura. As an example, in his sonnet, Overboldness, Petrarch describes several groups of animals by their ability to withstand light. The first group has such incredible eyesight that they can gaze directly into the sun and remain unscathed by its blinding power. Others' eyes are not so strong and are, therefore, forced to spend their lives in the darker world the night provides. Still others are so weakened by the strength of light that they can not even bare to look into a simple flame for its ability to scorch their eyes. Petrarch writes, "And in this number, woe is me, I stand. For neither have I strength, which can await that lady's light, nor judgment to defend myself in dark days and the late hours' gloom." Petrarch suggests that he finds the light of Laura to be so intense that it forces him into this third category of weaker beings. He claims to not possess the strength to stand in the glow of her presence, nor the courage to live in the darkness of a world without that radiance. But does Petrarch truly feel so strongly about the infamous Laura or is he simply using her as a vessel to carry him through 366 sonnets of fabricated



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