Despite popular belief, William Shakespeare was considered a great poet before a great playwright. He accomplished writing at least 154 sonnets and other poems of love. In this paper, I will analyze one of his greatest sonnets. One of the most famous of his sonnets is number XXIX. This sonnet is one long sentence, but it still follows the usual Shakespearean pattern of three quatrains (four line sections) and a couplet. It also follows the traditional rhyme scheme for Shakespearian sonnets: ababcdcdefefgg.
The first quatrain tells how the narrator is feeling. From reading these four lines, you sense his loneliness and sense of abandonment by fate, G-d, love, and other men. I believe the key line in this quatrain is line 3 (When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,). Here I feel Shakespeare is saying that this person who is very depressed, is crying out for help to others, but he is such an outcast that not even “deaf heaven,” meaning God and the angels of heaven or listening to his cries.
The second quatrain starts off with a line that shows the narrator wishes to be more optimistic. He realizes that in order to achieve his goals, he must believe in himself first and stop being so depressed. The second half of the quatrain shows he is envious of other mens possessions and riches when he says, Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope, With what I most enjoy contented least. Moving into the third quatrain, you see that the speaker begins to reflect on himself and starts to compare himself with his friends.
You know this when Haply I think on thee, and then my state, is said. Just as you start to think the speaker is going back into a state of self-pity, you realize the speakers inspired sprits are rising like the lark at break of day. Sonnet XXIX ends with a couplet that has an uplifting message. One the speaker remembers the love of his friend and what great things he has, it makes him happy with his life. So happy he wouldnt even consider swapping his place with a king.