A Wretch but for Love: Shakespeare’s Sonnet 91 Essay

A Wretch but for Love: Shakespeare’s Sonnet 91 Essay

Length: 1199 words (3.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

A Wretch but for Love: Shakespeare’s Sonnet 91
Shakespeare’s ninety-first sonnet continues to address the young man to whom he has been writing the procreation sonnets. The theme of this sonnet is the incomparable value of the young man’s love. For Shakespeare, the pleasure of the young man’s love is greater than any other pleasure. His rejection of worldly pleasures for the greater joy of love also appears to highlight a distinction Shakespeare wants to make between true wealth and poverty. In doing so, he insinuates a social criticism about the notion of what is truly valuable in this world. Shakespeare emphasizes these points through the structure of the poem, which employs repetition and chiasmus, and through diction.
This sonnet uses repetition in the three quatrains to underscore the value of the young man’s love. The first quatrain gives examples of things in which people glory or about which they generally boast. First, there are those who “glory in their birth” (1). “[B]irth” here most likely means “[p]arentage, lineage, extraction, descent; esp. rank, station, position inherited from parents” (OED), indicating noble birth or high status in society. Others glory in their “skill” (1), in other words, their abilities or talents. “[W]ealth” and strength, or “their body’s force” (2), are two things about which men have long loved to boast. Some also glory in their “garments” (3), indicating that they have the wealth and station to afford and have reason to wear expensive garments. Shakespeare ends the quatrain alluding to three of the common pastimes usually reserved for the upper-class gentlemen hawking, hunting and equestrianism. These things can, for the most part, only be enjoyed by those of noble birth and wealth....

... middle of paper ...

...iders himself a wealthy man, having something of which to boast greater than those who are not wretches, but born of wealth and high birth.
The structure of Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 91” which uses repetition and chiasmus as well as his use of diction underscore the theme of this sonnet: The young man’s love is the greatest pleasure of all and the vanity of material things. By ridiculing the things in which the nobility and wealthy, upper class boast, he sets up a new standard for what really matters most: love.

Works Cited
“better, v.” OED.
“birth, n.1” OED.
“newfangled, v.” OED.
Oxford English Dictionary Online. 2nd ed. 1989. Lane Library, Ripon College, Ripon, WI.
Shakespeare, William. “Sonnet 91.” The Complete Pelican Shakespeare. Ed. Stephen Orgel and A.R. Braunmuller . Penguin Books Ltd., 2002. 89.
“wretch, n. and a.” OED.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

William Shakespeare 's Sonnet 18 Essay

- William Shakespeare was arguably the greatest poet of all time, let alone of the renaissance period, and he certainly knew how brilliantly clever he was. Shakespeare wrote many sonnets which ultimately were callous towards their subjects. In addition to them being callous he also expertly used the final couplet to make him seem like he was a great poet whose writing was sheer awesome in the truest sense of the term, or to brag on his abilities in any way. Many, many of his sonnets show evidence of this trait....   [tags: Shakespeare's sonnets, Love, Poetry, Sonnet]

Strong Essays
1334 words (3.8 pages)

Essay on Sonnet 130 By William Shakespeare

- Sonnet Essay Love can be conveyed in many ways. It can be expressed through movements, gestures or even words on a paper. In William Shakespeare’s poems, “Sonnet 18” and “Sonnet 130,” both revolve around the idea of love, but are expressed in a different ways in terms of the mood, theme and the language used. Reading the poem once or twice may cause a reader to suggest that these two poems have the same mood. While both poems have a reference to a woman, they also vary in some ways. In “Sonnet 18,” the tone is all about love and the affection that Shakespeare has for his women....   [tags: Shakespeare's sonnets, Love, Poetry]

Strong Essays
1014 words (2.9 pages)

William Shakespeare 's Sonnet 143 Essay

- In the myriad mind Shakespeare, an innumerable amount of poems were written by this prolific writer. However, a forbidden collection of over 150 sonnets was never written for the public, as Shakespeare himself didn’t publish the works and never intended any of them to go beyond the few persons discussed within. Because of this, reading the many sonnets he created can give a reader a new perspective on the complicated inner workings of the mind of one of the most well-known writers ever. One poem of particularly interest is sonnet 143....   [tags: Shakespeare's sonnets, Sonnet, Poetry]

Strong Essays
1145 words (3.3 pages)

William Shakespeare 's Sonnet 18 Essay

- One can believe that the symbol in this sonnet is the summer’s day representing a person that is too passionate like a man. In line 1, “Shall I compare thee to a summer 's day?” (Shakespeare 1). With this quote many can say that Shakespeare “Sonnet 18” will be about how he will compare someone to a summer’s day. One can believe that Shakespeare wrote this about a man due to the word “thee”. Shakespeare uses Old English with most of his work, in addition, Latin word is used in most Old English around the time Shakespeare used it....   [tags: Shakespeare's sonnets, Sonnet, Sonnet 18, Sonnets]

Strong Essays
1115 words (3.2 pages)

Essay on Love

- Love Anyone who has been in love, especially if the love object is scornful or infidelitous, has been able to turn to any station and say “every pop song on the radio is suddenly speaking to me,” as Ani DiFranco sings in her song “Superhero”. 1 Petrarchan love sonnets, the antiquated predecessors of the modern “pop love song”, depict love with some sense of perfection, sweetness, and chastity, with the beautiful, infallible blonde as the love object, however both with a sense of unattainability....   [tags: Romance Relationships Essays]

Strong Essays
1756 words (5 pages)

Essay Love in Shakespeare's Sonnet 138

- The Philosophy of Love in Sonnet 138                     Shakespeare was a superb philosopher, but in his sonnets, he was a philosopher of love.  Shakespeare sets forth the experiences of love and its torments fully within his sonnets.  The philosophy of love is that, love reconciles all.  Love is the evil and the good, the lies and the truth.  Love is all there is. It passion as well as deception and lies. "Sonnet 138", is a notable example of Shakespeare's philosophy of love.  Written as a dramatic monologue, this sonnet (also known as "song") is a lyric.  Like all sonnets, there are fourteen lines, with every four lines written as quatrains in a b a b format.  The last two lines are kn...   [tags: Sonnet essays]

Strong Essays
712 words (2 pages)

Essay on The Sonnet Form and its Meaning: Shakespeares Sonnet 65

- The Sonnet Form and its Meaning: Shakespeare Sonnet 65            The sonnet, being one of the most traditional and recognized forms of poetry, has been used and altered in many time periods by writers to convey different messages to the audience. The strict constraints of the form have often been used to parallel the subject in the poem. Many times, the first three quatrains introduce the subject and build on one another, showing progression in the poem. The final couplet brings closure to the poem by bringing the main ideas together....   [tags: William Shakespeare Sonnet 65 Essays]

Strong Essays
1853 words (5.3 pages)

Essay on The Theme of Unconditional Love in William Shakespeare's Sonnet 130

- The Theme of Unconditional Love in William Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 'Sonnet 130' sounds as if it is mocking all of the other poems of Shakespeare's era. Love poems of this time period made women out to be superficial goddesses. 'Sonnet 130' takes the love poem to a deeper, more intimate level where looks are no longer important and it is inner beauty that matters. Shakespeare paints this picture using a wonderful combination of metaphors and a simile. He starts the poem out with a simile comparing his mistress' eyes to the sun....   [tags: Papers William Shakespeare Sonnet 130 Essays]

Strong Essays
588 words (1.7 pages)

Egotism and Love in Shakespeare's Sonnet 42 Essay

- Egotism and Love in Shakespeare's Sonnet 42      William Shakespeare's sonnets deal with two very distinct individuals: the blond young man and the mysterious dark-haired woman. The young man is the focus of the earlier numbered sonnets while the latter ones deal primarily with the dark-haired woman. The character of the young man and a seductive mistress are brought together under passionate circumstances in Shakespeare's "Sonnet 42." The sexual prowess of the mistress entangles both Shakespeare and the young man in her web of flesh....   [tags: Sonnet essays]

Strong Essays
1250 words (3.6 pages)

William Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 Essay examples

- Keeping love alive is not easy. One knows that life eventually comes to an end, but does love. Time passes and days must end. It is in "Sonnet 18", by Shakespeare, that we see a challenge to the idea that love is finite. Shakespeare shows us how some love is eternal and will live on forever in comparison to a beautiful summer's day. Shakespeare has a way of keeping love alive in "Sonnet 18", and he uses a variety of techniques to demonstrate how love is more brilliant and everlasting than a summer's day....   [tags: Shakespeare Sonnet]

Strong Essays
935 words (2.7 pages)