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Copmaring Shakespeare's Sonnets 116 and 147

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Copmaring Shakespeare's Sonnets 116 and 147

Light/Dark. Comfort/Despair. Love/Hate. These three pairs of words manage to sum up William Shakespeare's "Sonnet 116" and "Sonnet 147," while also demonstrating the duality of Shakespeare's heart. "Sonnet 116" reveals to a careful reader the aspects of Shakespeare's concept of what ideal love is. However, "Sonnet 147" shows the danger of believing in this ideal form of love. These two sonnets perfectly complement and clarify each other while also giving the reader insight into William Shakespeare's life.

To understand these two sonnets completely, one must first have a little background information concerning the sequence of the Sonnets and William Shakespeare's life. Shakespeare's series of Sonnets can be divided, "into two sections, the first (numbers 1-126) being written to or about a young man, and most of those in the second (numbers 127-154) being written to or about a dark woman" (Wilson 17-8). Because of the autobiographical nature of Shakespeare's Sonnets, these two characters are people from Shakespeare's actual life. The young man is Shakespeare's patron and Shakespeare has a "humble and selfless adoration [that] he feels for his young friend" (Wilson 32). The dark woman is Shakespeare's lover, a woman that infatuates him. These two people provide an emotional contrast for each other and Shakespeare's views on love. When these two meet, they have an affair, "behavior that, as the Poet [Shakespeare] is really deeply in love with the woman, causes him such distress, at times agony, as to introduce a note of tragedy into the series [of sonnets], . . ." (Wilson 33). The affair between the young man and the dark woman is the catalyst for Shakespeare's au...

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"Sonnet 116." The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 6th ed. Vol. 1. Eds. M. H. Abrams,

et al. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1993. 818.

"Sonnet 144." The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 6th ed. Vol. 1. Eds. M. H. Abrams,

et al. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1993. 821.

"Sonnet 147." The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 6th ed. Vol. 1. Eds. M. H. Abrams,

et al. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1993. 822.

Wilson, John Dover. An Introduction to the Sonnets of Shakespeare: For the Use of Historians

and Others. New York: Cambridge UP, 1964.

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