Shakespeare's Sonnets

A Close Reading of Shakespeare's Sonnet 147 College

In William Shakespeare's Sonnet 147, the speaker addresses his beloved using a metaphor, stating that his love is like an illness. However, he longs for the thing that keeps him ill, or in love. The fact that he compares his love to an illness suggests that he knows his love is a bad idea, but he is defenseless against loving the subject. The 'illness' of love can also account for his distressed and crazed state of mind. In the first two quatrains, reason and love are personified as two opposing forces, love in the form of an illness and reason in the form of the speaker's physician. However, while love is the negative force and reason is the positive force, the negative force of love appears to overpower the positive force of reason. By the end of the poem, the speaker is able to admit that the object of his affection is not good for him, although it is unclear whether or not this admission means he will leave her.

In the first quatrain, the speaker presents his love as a disease that is feeding on his desires. The beloved is the one feeding it. Even still, the love is consuming him, “...longing still/ For that which longer nurseth the disease” (1-2) By using the metaphor of illness, the speaker shows that he...

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