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Shakespeares Sonnet 150 Explication English Language Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 1325 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Shakespeare’s Sonnet 150 explores the power of love over hate. The sonnet begins with the speaker pondering and questioning his current emotional state. The speaker’s loved one holds a certain power over him that effectively causes him to be unfaithful to himself as well as “lie” (3) to his “true sight” (3). The speaker strives for his “heart to sway” (2) towards hating his loved one and he has many reasons to do so, but the power that beholds him causes him to look past all of her atrocious habits and imperfections. Her deeds are carried out with such “strength and warrantise of skill” (7) that it makes all of the desirable she does seem so small that it is often overlooked by not only him, but others as well. The speaker was warned by others with the actuality that his loved one was unworthy of his love. He denied the obvious and truthful advice from his companions and remained in love. This caused the speaker to gain hate on his “state” (12) from not only them, but his loved one in particular. Throughout all of the mistreating the speaker’s loved one portrayed towards him, he remained loyal to his oath and loved her just as much as he initially did. The sonnet ends with the speaker left in a sense of shock and disapproval. Even though he remained worthy to his partner and forgivingly overlooked all of her imperfections, she did not love him as much as he deserved to be loved.

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In the first quatrain of the poem, the speaker is questioning his loved one’s ability, and pondering on how she is able to make him love her. The word “O” (1) in the first line of the poem establishes the tone of the poem. It is used as a direct address to the speaker’s distressing emotional state, which makes the whole sonnet have a more gloomy and depressing tone. By using this type of tone, Shakespeare gives the reader a whole new insight on the speaker’s emotions. Shaping the loved one’s effective influence over the speaker, Shakespeare uses many potent words -“power, powerful, might” (1) – to emphasize the strong amount of authority she held in his emotions. The word powerful in the first line of the poem adds an extra syllable to the traditional iambic pentameter, putting a very powerful focus on the loved one’s ability. In the next line, most of the syllables ore used on the word “insufficiency” (2) which expresses a sense of inability in the speaker. Adding to this sense of insufficiency in the speaker, Shakespeare chose conflicting words like “lie” (3) followed immediately by the word “true” (3) and “swear” (4) add to articulate the reader into feeling the speaker’s feelings. The first three lines of the quatrain end in a comma while the last line ends in a question mark. By using a question mark, Shakespeare is complicating the tone. He is adding a spark of sarcasm to the sonnet because by the speaker questioning his emotions, he is second guessing himself and asking himself if he is really doing what he should not be.

In the second quatrain of the poem, the speaker considers all of his loved ones behaviors and asks himself why he is still in love with her after all the wrong she does to him. In the first line of the second quatrain, the word “Whence” (5), or where, is used which initiates another question. The word where is a time word that simply means from what place, source, or cause. Adding to this sense of timeliness, the word “becoming” (5) is used which illustrate a starting point, which is then followed by the word “ill” (5). The word ill, in this case meaning intended or caused by an evil intent, places negativity on the phrase. In the next lines, the writer uses more potent words to express just how powerful the loved one in the sonnet is. The punctuation in the second quatrain follows the pattern of the first quatrain. This shows that the speaker’s internal conflict has yet to be settled and he still has doubts on his relationship.

In the third quatrain, the speaker questions who taught his loved one to make him love her as well as he considers the amount of love his loved one really feels towards him. Also, the third quatrain does not follow the pattern of quatrains one and two. It is broken up into two different sections, the first being a question and the second being a statement. Starting off the first section of the third quatrain, another time word is used. The word “who” (10) in this line is used to introduce a relative cause. A second time word, “how” (10), follows the word who. The word how is used to complete the cause because it identifies to what degree or extent the speaker’s loved one gained her power. Complicating the rhyme scheme, internal rhyme is used in line nine. The words “thee, me, and thee” (9) are used to put more of a focus on the speaker’s loved one rather than himself. Adding to the tone, the word “O” (11) is used once again in line eleven. By using this word, the speaker is once again returning to the drearier mood and exiting the sarcastic mood. It also shows the reader that the realization made by the speaker is one of disappointment. The words “others and abhor” (11-12) are used repetitively in this section as well. By doing this, Shakespeare is turning the focus away from the speaker and his emotions and onto others, the loved one in particular, and that hatred feeling they feel towards his state.

In the last couplet of the sonnet, the speaker reaches the point of realization in the poem. He followed a strategic plan to help him reach this point in the sonnet. He first questioned her authority, secondly pondered on the options and possibilities, and finally came to the point of realizing he was no longer loved by her. The word “If” (13) is an introduction word, used in this case to introduce the conclusion of the poem. In lines thirteen and fourteen, a very important comparison is made comparing the love of the speaker to that of his loved one. By using the word “unworthiness” (13) to describe the speaker’s loved one, followed in the next line by the word “worthy” (14) describing the speaker, Shakespeare is showing the conflicting views of love in a relationship. “More” (14) is used immediately before the word “worthy” (14) to show the quantity of how much greater he should be loved by his loved one. Pairing this group of words also gives the reader an insight into the speaker’s loved one’s emotions. Since love had to be “raised” (13) in him, it shows she was not deserving of his love, but also “More worthy” (14) in the following line shows that love was raised less in her and more in the speaker when really, he was more worthy to be “beloved”.

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Throughout the entire sonnet, alliteration is heavily used. Words with soft consonants are used to s low the reader down and express the gloomy tone to its greatest extent. By choosing to strategically sequence the poem by the speaker questioning, thinking, and realizing his destiny, Shakespeare puts a more reality type view to this sonnet. These problem solving strategies are used in any situation to sort through problems and make important decisions which give the reader a better grasp to the meaning as well as tone because everything does not always happen as planned or hoped for. Without using this alliteration or diction Shakespeare chose throughout the sonnet, the general feeling of shock and disappointment regarding the speaker’s love compared to that of his loved one would not be nearly as clear or dramatic.


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