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Love in Shakespeare’s Sonnets 141 to 145

William Shakespeare is one of the most prominent figures in world literature whose characters and imagery are still popular. His plays are staged and screened in many countries, while his sonnets are widely read and recited. William Shakespeare focused on diverse topics in his literary works, but his sonnets are all about major human emotions and feelings. Love, as well as hate as its opposite, occupies the central position in the short poetic pieces, while jealousy is closely connected with both. The poet refers to the Dark Lady, a mysterious woman, and an angel who are the reasons for a plethora of sufferings, joys, fears, and jealousy. In his sonnets, Shakespeare reveals his personal torture, being torn in-between jealousy-based hatred and deepest love, where love is nevertheless glorified.

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Jealousy can be referred to as the other side of love, especially when passion is in place. Shakespeare pays close attention to this emotion as he has to endure tremendous sufferings caused by the ones he loves. Sonnet 144 is concerned with this torment, and the poet is jealous of his two lovers, who seem to be in love with each other, being “one angel in another’s hell” (Shakespeare 152). The man can hardly stand the idea that two people he loves do not belong to him. His jealousy is manifested in his negative perspective regarding their relationships and their personal characteristics, especially when it comes to the lady. The female is presented as a seductive demon who comes from hell to destroy. At the same time, even the angel, with all associated pureness and love, is not strong (and thus, perfect) enough as he will “be turn’d fiend” (Shakespeare 152). Jealousy is a negative and destructive emotion that causes a lot of pain, which can turn love to hate.

Sonnet 142 is the brightest example of the way love and hate go hand in hand. This feeling is a frame for the sonnet as it starts with the actual reference to hate and ends with a phrase looking like a curse. The poet starts his sonnet by contraposing love and hate, “Love is my sin and thy dear virtue hate” (Shakespeare 152). In his words, love, which is universally seen as a positive emotion, is a sin, and hate, which is something negative and destructive, is referred to as virtue. Shakespeare makes readers see the parallels between the two emotions that are opposite but still linked. The final lines are not that direct but are read as a hateful curse, “If thou dost seek to have what thou dost hide, / By self-example mayst thou be denied!” (Shakespeare 152). The poet wants his beloved to be rejected and suffer tremendously. Such wishes can emerge in a person who hates another one. However, this hateful wish is still a sign of deepest love and jealousy. The man cannot bear the idea that his beloved can be with anyone else.

Sonnet 143 is a logical continuation of the sonnet discussed above. Sonnet 143 displays the personal growth the poet achieves by putting his emotions under control and focusing on love rather than hate. He is ready to let his lover “follow that which flies before her face” while he is trying to attract her attention (Shakespeare 152). His love is so big that he does not focus on the mere possession of whom he wants. The man sets his jealousy aside in the hope that the woman he loves will eventually be with him. The poet has learned to see his woman’s relationships with others as a type of casual business for a partner. He is miserable without the cruel lady, but he does not concentrate on the moments of misery. The poet focuses on the moments when the women will “play the mother’s part, kiss me, be kind” (Shakespeare 152). The man makes his choice and seems to be satisfied with his new position. He understands that she will come back and be loving and caring. Love seems to defeat such negative emotions as jealousy and hate.

In conclusion, it is necessary to note that Shakespeare manages to exhibit his strongest emotions in his sonnets. His suffering and joys are intermingled as his love is accompanied by jealousy and hatred. The poet expresses his pain and hope, but it is still clear that he remains loving and faithful to his two loves. Shakespeare’s sonnets, especially the ones from 141 to 145, display the multi-faceted nature of the most wonderful feeling, making humans human. Love, hatred, and jealousy go hand in hand, causing a lot of trouble, but people learn to find their own gold mean or a new love. Many people simply terminate such painful and devastating relationships and find other ties to address their need for love and being loved. Shakespeare chooses the first option and manages to feel and enjoy all colors of the rainbow called love, which makes him one of the greatest poets of love.

Reference

Shakespeare, William. Love Poems & Sonnets of William Shakespeare. Independently published, 2020.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Love in Shakespeare’s Sonnets 141 to 145'. 14 August.

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