Sonnet 20

Topics: Gender, Homosexuality, Love, Transgender, Female, Male / Pages: 6 (1314 words) / Published: Oct 17th, 2013
A Closer Look at Homosexuality in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 20

Shakespeare is a name that is familiar to anyone who has a high school education, at the very least. What makes Shakespeare timeless and relevant to every generation since his, is that his works speak universal truths. But how well would he be received in today’s society if it were known that he was homosexual? Would our country’s homophobia change the way we appreciate Shakespeare’s work? In this essay I will argue that Shakespeare was indeed a homosexual. Although this is a radical conclusion, it is one that has been argued before. Acting under the premise that Shakespeare’s sonnets were published without his knowledge and consent, we can make the assumption that the speaker in his sonnets is the poetic persona, himself. Sonnet 20 is addressed to a man whom Shakespeare is in love with. With this in mind, Sonnet 20 is an admission of bisexuality at the very least and homosexuality at the most. Through Shakespeare’s combination of language and tone we can make the assumption that the poem is addressed to an androgynous male, most likely an actor from the theatre, whom Shakespeare loved.
The young man is Shakespeare’s subject for his first 126 sonnets, while the “dark lady” is responsible for sonnets 127-154. Since his sonnets are weighted considerably towards the young man we can gather that Shakespeare’s feelings for the young man heavily outweighed that which he felt for the woman. In fact, from several of his sonnets that are addressed to her we can speculate that Shakespeare was not in love with her, like clearly is with the young man, in fact, he despises her. One example of this is in sonnet 129 where he explores the bitter torment of sexual intercourse and the guilt that accompanies it afterward. In some other sonnets we see his description of his lady as dark and disgusting. It’s as if Shakespeare hates the feelings that the woman conjures in him, seemingly against his will.
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