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Showing posts with label Shakespeare's Sonnets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shakespeare's Sonnets. Show all posts

Friday, April 20, 2018

Shakespeare's Charatcterization the Dark Lady in his sonnets.


Shakespeare’s sonnets from 127 to152 are addressed to a woman commonly known as the 'Dark Lady' because her hair is said to be black and her skin "dun". In these sonnets we come to know about the dark lady and the speaker’s relation with her. These sonnets are explicitly sexual in character, in contrast to those written to the "Fair Youth". It is implied that the speaker of the sonnets and the Lady had a passionate affair, but that she was unfaithful, perhaps with the "Fair Youth". The poet self-deprecatingly describes himself as balding and middle-aged at the time of writing.Many attempts have been made to identify the "Dark Lady" with historical personalities, such as Mary Fitton or the poet Emilia Lanier, who was Rowse's favoured candidate, though neither lady fits the author's descriptions.

The nature of love to the lady

The love the speaker develops towards the dark lady is undoubtedly the misguided love.The lady is worthless.Not physicallly attractive the lady has also a loose moral character.She has many other lovers except the poet. But the poet is so infatuated that he can’t but love her.But this infatuated love can’t bring the mental satisfaction whcih we see in his relation with the young man.This frastrated love affair bring mental suffering for him.His love towards the young firiend brings him comfort.On the other hand his love for the lady brings him despair.

The antipetrarchan heroine

As it is seen in the sonnets 127 and 129, Skakespeare treats the Lady in a very ani-petrarchan manner. Unlike the Petrarchan heroine, the Lady is very unattractive or black. In Elizabethan days, so the poet tells us, black was not considered beautiful: "In the old age black was not counted fair, / Or, if it were, it bore not beauty's name." However, what is considered beautiful — at least to the poet — has changed; "now is black beauty's successive heir." This change in what is considered beautiful is the poet's main concern here in Sonnet 127 and in succeeding sonnets.

The degree of emphasis on the Dark Lady's color varies in the sonnets, so sometimes she seems black-haired and other times merely brunette. The poet's appreciation of the Dark Lady's appearance is complex: He is glad that she does not use cosmetics to lighten her appearance, which would be "a bastard shame," but she is not physically attractive to the poet, for all her erotic appeal. However, her black eyes become her so well "That every tongue says beauty should look so." Black, then, becomes another means for the poet to discredit the use of cosmetics; his mistress' good looks are not "slandered" by unnatural measures.

The anti-petrarchan treatment of love and the lady

The poet does not find in his mistress those beauuties which have conventionally been attributed by writers to their beloveds. For instance, the eyes of the poet’s mistress are not bright like the sun, her lips are not as red as coral, her breats are certainly not white like snow, her hairs are certainly not like golden wires, her cheeks certainly do not have the hues of roses, her breath is certainly not as sweet as perfumes, her voice is certainly not as pleasing as music. In short, the poet’s mistress is no goddess but just an ordinary woman walking on the ground. In spite of all this, the poet looks upon his beloved as a rare woman, as rare as any woman who has most extravagantly been praised by any writer.

This sonnet is a satire on the unreal comparisons in which the poets of the time used to indulge when writing about the beauty of their mistresses. All kinds of artificial comparisons were made to eulogize and glorify a woman in those days. Many of those comparisons figure in this sonnet, but here the poet speaks in a negative vein pointing out that these comparisons are not valid in the case of his beloved. Thus the poem is a satirical rejection of the false cpmparisons which were current in the poetry of the Elizabrthan times. Shakespeare here adops a more realistic approach while describing his beloved, but at the same time he affirms that she is a rare woman. From the point of view of the style, it is one of the easiest of the sonnets and is completely free from any kind of obscurity. Here we have an example of Shakespeare’s lucid style.

Lady has exquisitive talent for music

But the quality for which the poet truly admires the Lady is her exquisitive talent for music. In the sonnet 128, the poet describes the Lady’s talent for music. Besides the Lady’s talent for music, the poet also  fantasizes about kissing the woman in the same tender, controlling manner that she uses when playing. What makes the sonnet so physically sensual despite the poet's never once touching the woman is not only his description of her playing technique but his personification of the instrument's response to the woman's touch. In the concluding couplet, the poet continues to personify the wooden instrument's levers, calling them "saucy jacks so happy" because the woman physically touches them. The only consolation the poet has is his fantasy of kissing his mistress, which is an empty comfort given that the poet craves the sensuous touch the Dark Lady uses as she plays the musical instrument.

The speaker feels disgust for his own lust

The speaker knows that the lady has developed a sexual relation with his young friend.  Whereas Sonnet 132 makes the mistress into a chaste beauty, Sonnet 133 maligns her for seducing the poet's friend.The story of the poet's friend's seduction unfolds in Sonnet 134. Hoping to gain the woman's favor, the poet sends the young man to the woman with a message. However, she seizes the opportunity to make the youth her lover, and the youth responds to her advances wholeheartedly.
The sonnet is saturated with terms common to usury: The poet is "mortgaged" (used as security) by the woman (the "usurer") to gain the affections of the youth (the "debtor").

The speaker himself would like to satisfy his sexual hunger

That the speaker’s love with the Lady is misguided is seen in the sonnet 135. The speaker himself would like to satisfy his sexual hunger.The poet wants to continue his sexual relationship with his mistress, but she is already bursting with lovers: "Whoever hath her wish, thou hath thy Will, / And Will to boot, and Will in overplus."

Because the woman already has several Wills, or lovers, the poet wonders why she does not accept him, his "will," as well: "So thou, being rich in Will, add to thy Will / One will of mine to make thy large Will more."

There is more than a little cynicism in the poet's admission of lust for a thoroughly disreputable woman. Begging to have sex with the woman, the poet barely masks his jealousy of the woman's many lovers: "Shall will in others seem right gracious, / And in my will no fair acceptance shine?" What is so wrong, he asks her, with his sex organ that she won't accept him as her lover? Sarcastically, he bawdily asks her why her own sex organ, which so easily accommodated other men's, cannot accept one more.

The relation is based on the lie

Sonnet 138 presents a candid psychological study of the mistress that reveals many of her hypocrisies. Certainly she is still very much the poet's mistress, but the poet is under no illusions about hercharacter: "When my love swears that she is made of truth, / I do believe her, though I know she lies." He accepts without protest her "false-speaking tongue" and expects nothing better of her. Cynically, he too deceives and is comforted by knowing that he is no longer fooled by the woman's charade of fidelity to him, nor she by how young and simpleminded he presents himself to be.

The main theme of the concluding two lines is lust, but it is treated with a wry humor. The poet is content to support the woman's lies because he is flattered that she thinks him young — even though he knows that she is well aware of just how old he is. On the other hand, he does not challenge her pledges of faithfulness — even though she knows that he is aware of her infidelity. Neither is disposed to unveil the other's defects. Ultimately the poet and the woman remain together for two reasons, the first being their sexual relationship, the second that they are obviously comfortable with each other's lying. Both of these reasons are indicated by the pun on the word "lie," meaning either "to have sex with" or "to deceive": "Therefore I lie with her and she with me, / And in our faults by lies we flattered be."

The poet is overcome by despair and thretens the lady

Sinking quickly into despair over the sad state of his relationship with the woman, the poet threatens the woman with public humiliation should she not at least feign love for him. The first warning is in the first quatrain, in which he cautions her not to be too public in her flirtations with other men. In the second quatrain, the poet uses a simile to convey his thoughts of how the woman should treat him. Like a dying man who wants only false reassurances from his doctor about his condition, he wants the woman to falsify her love for the poet. Sadly, the poet's suggesting this action shows how knowledgeable he is that the relationship's end is near. The third quatrain contains another threat that the poet will publicly slander the woman's character: "For if I should despair, I should grow mad, / And in my madness might speak ill of thee." Lest the woman not heed his first two warnings, he adds a third in the sonnet's last three lines, overtly forewarning his mistress that "Slanderers by mad ears believed be," and that she should "Bear thine eyes straight, though thy proud heart go wide." In other words, when they are in public, she must pay attention only to him and not to any other man; if she does not do as he wishes, he will publicly slander her.

The infatuation comes to the end

Delving into the awareness of sin, Sonnet 142 sums up the poet's whole fatuous and insatiable passion. He supports the woman's rejection of his love because he deems his love for her unworthy of him: "Love is my sin and thy dear virtue hate, / Hate of my sin, grounded on sinful loving." He cannot help loving her, but he despises himself for doing so. Note that in lines 1 and 2, the poet compares himself to the woman using opposite qualities: The poet's "Love" opposes the woman's "hate," and "my sin" contrasts to the cynical "thy dear virtue." He believes that he deserves her contempt because of her damnable behavior, not because of his. Yet the poet feels that he deserves the woman's pity because he shares her vice. That is, he loves the woman in the same manner that she loves her many suitors: artificially, meanly, and basely. Ironically, however, her flirting with others becomes such an artful and "sinful loving" that he admires her and wants her more.

The relation breaks up

The end of the relationship between the poet and the woman becomes apparent. Addressing the woman with a sense of shame and outrage, the poet is fully conscious of his own adultery and that of his mistress, as well as her infidelity to him and his lack of moral perception: "In loving thee thou know'st I am forsworn, / But thou art twice forsworn." A reconciliation between the poet and the woman is suggested, but subsequently the poet accuses her of "vowing new hate after new love bearing."

Thus, from his sonnets from 127 through 154, we come to know about a Dark Lady with whom the poet was acquainted. There have been many speculations about the identity of the Dark lady. But no-one has yet been able to show convincingly whether the sonnets do or do not have autobiographical or topical character. On the basis of sheer speculation, several young women of Queen Elizabeth I's court—including Mary Fitton, Emilia Lanier, and Lucy Morgan—have been put forth as historical models for the Dark Lady of Shakespeare's sonnets.These dark lady sonnets, however, are important beacuse they highlight Shakespeae’s personality as well as his anti-petrarchan conception of beauty.

Shakespeare’s treatment of Love and Marriage in his Sonnets.


The themes of marriage and love are two leading issues in Shakespeare’s sonnets drama. The 154 sonnets, which are divided into two groups, treat these two themes from various perspectives. In the treatment of marriage and love Shakespeare is both traditional and anti-traditional. He is traditional in the sense that like other Petrarchan sonneteers of his age, Shakespeare also gave emphasis on love theme in his sonnets. Sometimes, he also follows the courtly tradition. But he is also different from the Petrarchan sonneteers in the sense that he openly satirizes the courtly tradition of poetry in his sonnets. Now,let us discuss Shakespeare’s treatment of marriage and love in his sonnets. 
 
Shakespeare’s opening 17 sonnets, which are known as the procreation sonnets, deal with the theme of marriage. Here in these sonnets Shapespeare is preoccupied with the practical value of marriage. He does not treat marriage from spiritual point of view. Rather he views marriage as a tool to overcome the destruction of Time.In the opening four sonnets, Shakespeare urges his friend to get wed in order to preserve the ’beauty’s rose’ from the hands of destructive Time. The poet calls upon his friend to get married and to produce children in order to be able to perpetuate his name and his memory.

In Sonnet 5, 6 and 7, the poet views marriage as a tool to defy the ravages of Time. Here he gives a picture of the passing of time and the effect of time on beautiful things. When summer ends, all its beauty goes, without leaving any trace behind. Samely people gaze at the sun and worship its glory when it rises in the morning. But nobody bothers about the sun when it is setting. Here the poet encourages his friend to have ten sons if possible because that will mean ten times more happiness for him and for others.  

Shakespeare also considers marriage important for happy conjugal life. In Sonnet 8, the poet employs a new argument that music chides his friend for remaining single instead of getting married. Various musical sounds combine to form one harmonious whole. In the same way a father, a mother, and a child constitute one pleasing whole (i.e, a family).The poet’s feeling behind this sonnet is one of the regret at the failure of his friend to have played that role.
In Sonnet 9, we have a striking example of what is known as ’’hyperbole.” To say  that the world will be widowed if the poet’s friend dies issuless.

In Sonnet 10, the poet accuses his friend because the friend loves nobody and in fact he does not love even himself because he shows no concern for the preservation and perpetuation of his own beauty through marriage and begetting child.

In Sonnet 11 the poet appeals to his friend in the name of sheer commonsense. There is no doubt that, if everybody were to lead a life of celibacy, the world of human beings would come to an end after a certain period of time.

In Sonnet 15 the poet promises immortality to his friend through his poetry. Yet he urges his friend to seek immortality through a more effective way in Sonnet 16 and 17. The poet is trying to preserve an image of the youth and beauty of his friends in his sonnets, but the coming generation will not believe that such a handsome and charming young man as has been described in these poems ever existed.They will think that the poet has given a highly exaggerated account of his friend’s beauty. So, the best way for his friend to attain immortality, therefore, is to get married and beget a child.

Next comes the treatment of love. In his treatment of love Shakespeare is almost autobiographical. He expresses his views on love in relation with his male friend and the young lady. 

The first group of sonnets (1-126) is addressed to a male friend, most probably the Earl of Southampton; while the second group (127-152 with the exception of two) is addressed to Shakespeare’s mistress who has come to be known as the dark lady.  Shakespeare loved both his male friend and his mistress ; and his love for both of them was intense and passionate. But both of them betrayed him by developing a sexual relationship with each other.Inspite of this betrayal, Shakespeare could not help continuing to love both of them

Regarding his relation with his young friend, the poet writes in romantic and loving language, a fact which has led several commentators to suggest a homosexual relationship between them, while others read it as platonic love.
Shakespeare’s love is ideal love, and it almost surpasses the love of Dante for his Beatrice, and the love of Petrarch for his Laura. Nor could Mrs Browning, in her sonnets, written much later and addressed to her husband, equal Shakespeare’s ardour and fervour.

Shakespeare’s treatment of love is also seen in his relation with the Dark lady. Here at first, the poet is anti-petrarchan in his treatment of love. Shakespeare did not follow the Elizabethan courtly tradition.

Shakespeare’s ridicule of the courtly tradition is best illustrated in his sonnet 130. This sonnet plays an elaborate joke on the conventions of love poetry common to Shakespeare's day.

In the sonnets, Petrarch praises her beauty, her worth, and her perfection using an extraordinary variety of metaphors based largely on natural beauties. In Shakespeare's day, these metaphors had already become cliche (as, indeed, they still are today), but they were still the accepted technique for writing love poetry. The result was that poems tended to make highly idealizing comparisons between nature and the poets' lover that were, if taken literally, completely ridiculous. My mistress' eyes are like the sun; her lips are red as coral; her cheeks are like roses, her breasts are white as snow, her voice is like music, she is a goddess.

In many ways, Shakespeare's sonnets subvert and reverse the conventions of the Petrarchan love sequence: the idealizing love poems, for instance, are written not to a perfect woman but to an admittedly imperfect man, and the love poems to the dark lady are anything but idealizing ("My love is as a fever, longing still / For that which longer nurseth the disease" is hardly a Petrarchan conceit.) Sonnet 130 mocks the typical Petrarchan metaphors by presenting a speaker who seems to take them at face value, and somewhat bemusedly, decides to tell the truth. Your mistress' eyes are like the sun? That's strange--my mistress' eyes aren't at all like the sun. Your mistress' breath smells like perfume? My mistress' breath reeks compared to perfume. In the couplet, then, the speaker shows his full intent, which is to insist that love does not need these conceits in order to be real; and women do not need to look like flowers or the sun in order to be beautiful.

In the case of the mistress, Shakespeare’s attitude is vastly different. Shakespeare’s love for his mistress is wholly sensual. He finds his mistress far more guilty than his male friend. He certainly recognises the physical charms of the woman even though she has a dark complexion. A dark complexion is far from being regarded by most people as beautiful; but there is something irresistible about this woman whose charms reside in her shape, figure, and features. Her dark complexion is, therefore, no obstacle in the way of Shakespeare’s infatuation with her.

But Shakespeare’s love in this case can only be described as an infatuation which he cannot overcome. Shakespeare does not find in her those virtues which the traditional heroine of the Elizabethan and pre-Elizabethan sonneteers possessed. On the contrary, Shakespeare finds this woman as being a nymphomaniac who would be ready to sleep with other men, besides Shakespeare’s male friend. Black from the outside, this woman is black inside too. In her case outward appearance and inner reality coincide  and, though a symbol of irresistible physical charms, she also becomes a symbol of treachery, foulness, and sensuality. While Shakespeare’s love for his male friend possesses the quality of loftiness, his love for the dark  lady shows the degradation of love.

Thus, the themes of marriage and love are central to Shakespearean sonnets. Like the Elizabethan sonneteers he used these two themes in his sonnets. But his treatment is different from other sonneteers. He views marriage as an important element to perpetuate beauty. And he expresses love not only in his relation with a lady, but also in his relation with his male friend.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Treatment of Time in Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Shakespeare uses the word 'time' seventy-eight times in the sonnets 1-126. As we go through the sonnets it seems to us that the narrator is hauntingly preoccupied with the passing of time and everything that it entails, including mortality, memory, inevitability, and change. He is distressed over such things that he has no control over time ,but still he tries to conquer the time.At times it seems that the speaker is fighting a futile battle against time itself.

Time personified

Shakespeare often personifies time.It is said that Time is the fourth character in his sonnets.But the Time is the great villain in Shakespeare’s sonnets-drama.Shakespeare describes time as a "bloody tyrant" (Sonnet 16), "devouring" and "swift-footed" (Sonnet 19). Time is making Shakespeare old and near "hideous night" (Sonnet 12) or death. And time will eventually rob the beauty of the young man. This treatment of time is prevalent throughout the sonnets, and it takes many different forms, sometimes referring to the destructive power of time in general, other times focusing on the effects of time on a specific character in the sonnets such as the narrator or the fair lord.


In the first seventeen sonnets which are called the procreation sonnets Skakespeare makes an earnest plea to the fair lord, begging him to find a woman to bear his child so that his beauty might be preserved for posterity. In these 17 sonnets the treatment of time is almost. Through the imagery of military, winter, and the Sun the speaker tries to give the picture of the ravages of time. In sonnet 2, the poet writes, "When forty winters shall beseige thy brow / And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field ... Time is the great enemy, besieging the youth's brow, digging trenches — wrinkles — in his face, and ravaging his good looks. In the sonnet 5 he repeates the same theme and says that hours are tyrants that oppress him because he cannot escape time's grasp. Time might "frame / The lovely gaze where every eye doth dwell," meaning that everyone notices the youth's beauty, but time's "never-resting" progress ensures that this beauty will eventually fade.Time is related with death .Sonnet 13 furthers the theme of time by stating that death will forever vanquish the young man's beauty.

But the speaker also suggests the way how to comquer time. The poet argues that procreation ensures life after death; losing your identity in death does not necessarily mean the loss of life so long as you have procreated. The poet is lamenting the ravages of time and its detrimental effects on the fair lord's beauty, seeking to combat the inevitable by pushing the fair lord to bequeath his exquisiteness unto a child. In Sonnet 12 again the narrator speaks of the sterility of bachelorhood and recommends marriage and children as a means of immortality.


The destructive nature of time is shown again in the sonnet 18 ans 19.But here the speaker finds an alternative way to conquer the time namely his verse.In sonnet 18 Initially, the poet poses a question to his friend — "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" — and then reflects on it, remarking that the youth's beauty far surpasses summer's delights.But the poet admits the ravages of time again and we see it especially in line 7, where the poet speaks of the inevitable mortality of beauty: "And every fair from fair sometime declines." But the speaker is very confident and defies the time.The poem end with the concluding : "So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, / So long lives this, and this gives life to thee." The poet opines that his eternal verse will capture and mummify the friend’s beauty.
The same theme is repeated in the sonnet 19 in which the speaker pictures time with help of the animal imageries.The poet addresses Time and, using vivid animal imagery, comments on Time's normal effects on nature. The sonnet's first seven lines address the ravages of nature that "Devouring Time" can wreak.The poet then commands Time not to age the young man and ends by boldly asserting that the poet's own creative talent will make the youth permanently young and beautiful.However, nature's threatening the youth's beauty does not matter, for the poet confidently asserts that the youth will gain immortality as the subject of the sonnets. Because poetry, according to the poet, is eternal, it only stands to reason that his poetry about the young man will ensure the youth's immortality. The youth as the physical subject of the sonnets will age and eventually die, but in the sonnets themselves he will remain young and beautiful.


The sonnet 60 may best illustrate Shakespeare’s treatment of the ravages of time.Sonnet 60 is acknowledged as one of Shakespeare's greatest because it deals with the universal concerns of time and its passing. In the sonnet, time is symbolized by concrete images.

Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end;
Each changing place with that which goes before,
In sequent toil all forwards do contend.

Each quatrain engages the theme in a unique way, with the destructive force of time redoubling with each successive line. In quatrain one the flow of time is compared with the incessant beating of the waves against a shore, each wave building in strength and then crashing down again only to be followed by another in its place. The second quatrain uses the sun as a metaphor for human life: it is born ("Nativity") and "crawls" (like a baby) until it reaches its highest point, whereupon it is "crown'd" (with maturity) and then proceeds to fall back into darkness, or death. Line 8 concludes the metaphor with the assertion that Time both gives the gift of life and takes it away again.Although the poet seems certain that Time's destruction is inevitable, he is nonetheless hopeful that his verse will get away with it in the end. The final couplet speaks of the poet's intention to outsmart Time himself, defying his "cruel hand" by eternalizing the fair lord in his verse.

In the sonnet 65 the poet also says that nothing withstands time's ravages. The hardest metals and stones, the vast earth and sea — all submit to time.The poet once again is reassured that his sonnets will provide the youth immortality — his verse is the only thing that can withstand time's decay. Returning to the power of poetry to bestow eternal life, the poet asserts "That in black ink my love may still shine bright." He believes that his love verse can preserve the youth's beauty.

Sometimes the poet thinks his attepmts to conquer the time as futile and without any result. In Sonnet 64, the poet is portrayed as a historian, philosopher, and antiquarian who dreams of time's relentless destruction of ancient glories. Monuments that reflect the noblest ideas of humankind — castles, churches, and cities — will one day be "confounded to decay."Whereas Sonnet 60's concluding couplet evokes feelings of high-spirited joy and confidence, Sonnet 64 ends in despair: The poet is now certain that death will "take my love away," but he no longer seems satisfied that his verse will ensure the youth's immortality. The sonnet's last two lines convey a grievous, depressing tone: "This thought is as a death, which cannot choose / But weep to have that which it fears to lose." The poet finally acknowledges the youth's — and his own — mortality.


Time,old age and death are inter-related.Sonnets 73 and 75 treat this aspect of time.Sonnet 73 as sonnet 60 in expresses the theme of the ravages of time. The sonnet focuses on the narrator's own anxiety over growing old. In the first quatrain, the narrator compares himself to the late autumn season, that time of year when the trees have begun to lose their leaves and the cold is setting in.Quatrain two makes life still shorter, going from the seasons of the year to the hours of the day. The narrator is at the twilight of his life: his sun has set, and Death is soon upon him.

The poet continues his obsessive concern with his own death in the sonnet 75. Although he emphasizes his own inadequacy as a person, he boldly asserts the greatness of his verse: "My life hath in this line some interest, / Which for memorial still with thee shall stay." He claims that his better part will survive his death in his poems. In keeping with his exaggerated mood, the poet alludes to the belief that his demise will be "Too base" for the youth to remember, but the best part of him will survive in his immortal verse.

The inevitable ravages of time is also shown in the sonnet 104.

True love can defy time

Like the children and the verse true love also can defy the time as mentioned in the sonnet 116. Unlike physical beauty true love is not "Time's fool." and subject to the ravages of time

"Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come."
Time's "hours and weeks" are "brief" compared to love's longevity.

The same view is repeated in the sonnet 123 ,in which the speaker directly addresses Time, and explains that he must defy it.

No! Time ,thau shalt not boast that I do change
Thy pyramids built up with newer might.

The narrator claims to be a man of steady and stable character ,not subject to the changes which Time brings about.He vows that he would never change towards his friend and that he would always remain true to him ,despite the scythe of Time.

This I do vow and this shall ever be,
I will be true despite thy scythe and thee.

Thus, the theme of time is built gradually through the first 126 sonnets and the poet comes to the conclusion tha inspite of the ravages of time love can shelter him.

Portrayal of the Fair Youth in Shakespeare's Sonnets

In Shakespeare’s Sonnets the 'Fair Youth' is an unnamed young man to whom sonnets 1-126 are addressed. The poet writes of the young man in romantic and loving language, a fact which has led several commentators to suggest a homosexual relationship between them, while others read it as platonic love. Though the name this young man is not mentioned,we can get a view of the mental and physical picture of him.

The thing that strikes our mind after we read the sonnets is that the speaker only pays the glowing tributes to the external features of his friend.But inwardly his friend lacks many qualities and the poet has to give advice to keep him on the right track.But the young man remains ever uninstructed.

Physically superb

Physically superb, radiantly youthful, politically ascendant, socially powerful, the fair youth represents nearly everything that Shakespeare's culture valued in external life accomplishments and courtly character. To highlight this idealization ,the fair youth's perceived virtues are explicitly contrasted with the poet's "too sullied" and demeaning real world existence.

This idealization treats lightly the youth's fundamental flaw, his selfishness in refusing to wed and procreate. But this initial idealization makes horrific the poet's gradual recognition and then public denunciation of the youth's vicious, shallow and selfish character. The poet's ideals become a pathetic illusion, and the poems describe a pervasive spiritual strangulation that goes far beyond amorous disappointment. It is this existential exhaustion that the poet struggles to overcome.

The sensual betrayal of the "dark lady" counterpoints the spiritual betrayal by the young man. With the woman (whose historical identity is unknown) the poet's "betrayal" is inward and visceral, as his lust turns into an addict's remorse.

Reluctant youth

In the opening 17 sonnets the friend is portrayed as a handsome young man who is very reluctant to get wed. In the opening sonnet the friend ,who ’contracted to thine own bright eyes’ and is interested only in his own selfish desires emerges as the embodiment of narcissism, a destructively excessive love of oneself. The poet makes clear that the youth's self-love is unhealthy, not only for himself but for the entire world.

From the Sonnet 7 we see that the friend’s youthful condition is compared with the sun's highest point in the sky,which resembles "strong youth in his middle age." However, after the sun reaches it apex, its only direction is down. This downward movement represents "feeble age" in the youth, and what is worse than mere physical appearance is that the people who looked in awe at the youth's beauty will "look another way" when he has become old. In death, he will not be remembered.
As usual, the poet argues that the only way for the youth to ensure that he is remembered after he dies is to have a child, making it clear that this child should be a son.

The sonnets open in a public, ceremonial tone. They graciously entreat a noble and beautiful young man (the "fair youth") to sire a child who will preserve his physical virtues after he is old or dead. (Conception implies the contract of marriage, which is never mentioned explicitly.) Most of the important themes or key images in the sonnet cycle are first expressed here in stylized terms: beauty's passing, the human desire to preserve beauty against time and decay, the deferential relationship between the fair youth and the poet who speaks the sonnets, the connections among people that the desire to preserve beauty motivates, the power of verse to persuade and memorialize, and (gently expressed) the narcissism and selfishness that underlies the youth's indifference to the poet's requests. 

The sonnets from 18 to 25 we find another picture of the youth.This time the poet is obsessessed with the physical charms of the young man.In the sonnet 18,for example ,the speaker says

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.

Thus the speaker here has glorified the physical charms of the young man,whose beauty far surpasses summer's delights. The poet's use of extremes in the phrases "more lovely," "all too short," and "too hot" emphasizes the young man's beauty.

The sonnet 20 gives another picture of the friend. In this crucial, sensual sonnet, the young man becomes the "master-mistress" of the poet's passion.

A woman’s face with nature’s own hand painted
Hast thou the master mistress of my passion.

As a man with the beauty of a woman, the youth is designed to be partnered with women but attracts men as well, being unsurpassed in looks and more faithful than any woman. Although to the poet he possesses a woman's gentleness and charm, the youth bears the genitalia ("one thing") of a man, and despite having a woman's physical attractiveness, the young man has none of a woman's fickle and flirtatious character.

Self-centred and unable to exercise good friendship

But from the sonnet 25 onwards we find another picture of the friend. Here the self-centred nature of the young man is clearly portrayed.The poet is devoted to his friend ,the latter is unmindful to the poet.As stated in the sonnet 34 the young man is not capable of a mutual,warm friendship.

Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day,
And make me travel forth without my cloak,
To let base clouds o'ertake me in my way,
Hiding thy bravery in their rotten smoke?

The speaker is puzzled and painfully disappointed by the youth, whose callousness dashes any hope of his enjoying a dependable friendship. The opening complaint, again based on the metaphor of the young man as the sun, shows how much the poet's perceptions have changed. He has been wounded by the youth, and apologies notwithstanding, the scar remains: "For no man well of such a salve can speak / That heals the wound, and cures not the disgrace."

He is indocurous

In the following sonnets we also notice some indocurous behaviours of the young man.He is selfish and of loose morality as is portrayed in sonnets 40 and 42.From these sonnets it becomes apparent that the young friend has developed a secrete relation with the speaker’s mistress. Though the poet does not openly condemn his friend,he wavers between anger at and forgiveness of the young man. Line 7 begins, "But yet be blamed," and we expect the poet to rant in extreme hostility at the youth, but this mood then shifts to the forgiveness contained in lines 9 and 10: "I do forgive thy robb'ry, gentle thief, / Although thou steal thee all my poverty." In lines 11 and 12, the mood shifts again, but now the poet waxes philosophically about the contrasts between love and hate: ". . . it is a greater grief / To bear love's wrong than hate's known injury." And finally, even while angry over the affair, the poet forgives the youth's lecherous nature: "Lascivious grace, in whom all ill well shows, / Kill me with spites; yet we must not be foes."

In the sonnet 42 the speaker also expresses his suppressed anger for his friend and also finds consolotion from the syllogistic argument that he and his friend are one and the same person and that his mistress therefore loves only him even if she has become his friend’s mistress.

The friend can be faithless but the poet remains ever faithful to him which earns good admiration to our eyes.Amid his suffering, the poet's dignity emerges in his high minded endurance, in the strength of his love, his forgiveness, his dry humor, and his powerful verse. The "fair youth" sonnets conclude with an awed realization of the power of genuine love to triumph over any suffering. Love is precious not because the youth is worthy or because the erotic impulse is sweet to fulfill, but because love alone can overcome life's unrelenting waste and futility:

Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

Whatever is the source of the strength the poet finds, it is this immortal truth and beauty that the sonnets magnificently celebrate.

Thus, though the poet’s emotion ,which originally is that of admiration ,develops until it becomes adoration.But the young man emerges as a selfish man of dual personality.He belongs to the aristocratic family but his moral taste is coarse and immoral.

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