Explanation of Shakepeare's Sonnet 147

1422 WordsSep 11, 20136 Pages
Love is a Disease: An Explication of Sonnet 147 Love is a disease. Desire is deadly. When one thinks about Shakespeare’s sonnets, the instinctual response is the thought of romance. For instance the adoring lines, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day/ Thou are more lovely and more temperate” (Sonnet 18, 1-2), are thought to be the most famous words from a Shakespearean sonnet. However, instead of describing love in a starry-eyed fashion, Shakespeare discusses the punitive characteristics of love in Sonnet 147. The persona describes love as an infectious illness caused by sexual appetites. The persona’s mind knows better than to indulge his appetite, but he does not listen to his logic. He begins the sonnet by stating the primary…show more content…
Like the personification of reason, this metaphor gives the word desire greater importance. This aids in the quatrain’s main dispute of reason versus desire. “Desire is death”, is a harsh and straightforward metaphor. The persona expresses that desire is what causes the toxic disease. The use of punctuation also isolates the words desire and reason to show their importance to the quatrain. “My reason,” (5) is followed by a comma. When the reader says this out loud, it forces the reader to pause where the coma is. In doing so, the word reason is separate from the rest of the sentence and emphasized. The comma also creates a visual separation that creates emphasis. In the same way, “Desire is death,” (8), is also followed by a comma. The same emphasis applies here, which strengthens the quatrains conflict of reason versus desire. In the third quatrain, the persona expresses that he is hopeless. His sexual appetite cannot be cured. He is now angry, and like a madman tells lies due to his detrimental sexual desires. This quatrain portrays the conflict between desire and the cure. Desire has overcome the cure and the persona is now hopeless of overcoming this disease. In the first line, Shakespeare introduces the meaning of the quatrain, “Past cure I am, now reason is past care” (9).

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