Love and Lust in the Lyrics (Shakespeare's Sonnets)

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A sonnet is a poem of fourteen lines that rhyme in a particular pattern. William Shakespeare’s sonnets were the only non-dramatic poetry that he wrote. Shakespeare used sonnets within some of his plays, but his sonnets are best known as a series of one hundred and fifty-four poems. The series of one hundred and fifty-four poems tell a story about a young aristocrat and a mysterious mistress. Many people have analyzed and contemplated about the significance of these “lovers”. After analysis of the content of both the “young man” sonnets and the “dark lady sonnets”, it is clear that the poet, Shakespeare, has a great love for the young man and only lusts after his mistress. In order to fully understand the depth of emotion that Shakespeare (hereafter the poet) felt for the young man of his sonnets, one must be familiar with the story line of the first sub-sequence of the sonnets. When analyzing the content and depth of the poet’s love, the ambiguous nature of the poet’s relationship with the young man should also be considered. Sonnets 1-126 are addressed to a salient young man: advising him, praising him, and nagging him. The first nineteen sonnets repeat the same message. They encourage the young man to settle down and have children. Because his youthful beauty will not last forever, the poet urges the man to procreate so that the young man’s unmatched beauty can live on in his children. Many of the early sonnets sing the approbation of the young man and express the poet’s love and emulation for him. Shakespeare used love in the context of a deep friendship, as read in the first four lines of sonnet 26:

Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage
Thy merit hath my duty strongly knit,
To thee I send this written ambassage
To witness duty, not to show my wit; (see appendix P for whole sonnet)

The mistress then seduces the poet’s friend and after he contends for her with the young man, the poet gives her up to the lord. In sonnet 42 (see appendix...
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