Emotional Versus Physical: The Struggle In Words

914 words - 4 pages

Known as one of the most influential and important English Renaissance authors, William Shakespeare paved the path for sonnet writers and modern poets. Shakespeare is the author of 37 plays and 154 sonnets. Each sonnet deals with personal themes and can work collectively as a story or individually. The first 126 of the sonnets are addressed to a young nobleman, while the rest are addressed to a woman known as the ‘dark lady’. In Sonnet 27, the narrator has returned from a long journey, tired, but unable to sleep, because he is plagued with thoughts about his relationship and visions of the subject. Although there is much mystery surrounding Shakespeare’s sonnets, through figurative language, ...view middle of the document...

The implicit meaning, however, can be found through the word shadow’s literal meaning. A shadow is a dark area produced by a body or a feeling of sadness and gloom. By using shadow he is referring to both the image of the physical being and the darkness of a shadow is the longing the speaker feels to be with him. Pairing words in a particular quatrain can adjust the implicit meaning of a line. In the second half of the last quatrain, Shakespeare states, “Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night / Makes black night beauteous and her old face new” (Ln. 11-12). The simile “jewel” conveys the physical beauty of the person that is seen in the image or “shadow”, while the “ghastly night” is a metaphor for how the speaker wants to rest from the “zealous pilgrimage” that his mind is going through. Pairing the jewel simile with the ghastly night emphasizes the struggle between his mental and emotional attachment to the person and his need to leave the image behind and reset after his journey. In Shakespeare’s sonnets the multiple meanings behind words and particular pairings will add more substance to an otherwise bland and straightforward poem.
Through comparing and contrasting of multiple of multiple sonnets, there is continuation of the physical verses mental struggle. In Sonnet 27, Shakespeare is experiencing what he believes to be the power of love, because his thoughts are overpowering his physical need for rest. Similarly, in Sonnet 116 Shakespeare describes the power of love as “an ever-fixed mark” (Ln. 5) just as the thoughts of the young nobleman are stuck in his mind as he’s trying to sleep. This continuation of the struggle can also be found while comparing the ‘young...

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