Sonnets 116, 144 and 147 are all constructed in the usual Shakespearean sonnet manner. They consist of three quatrains and a final couplet which is composed in iambic parameter. The rhyme scheme for all of those sonnets is abab cdcd efef gg. In all of them the author has used different literary devices to express his main ideas.
The three sonnets 116, 144 and 147 come from different sequences. Sonnet 116 is still talking about the platonic and true love of Shakespeare towards the young youth, while sonnet 147 is concentrated on the lustful love of the author towards the “dark lady” which is the second important image in the Shakespearean sonnets. Sonnet 144 is the only one who is embodying the two images at one place and probably hinting for a secret relationship between them. Thus the relationship between those three sonnets is very interesting to contrast and compare, because the images of the dark woman and the fair man could be traced in the whole universe of the Sonnets, as a main theme of his struggle and his desire of understanding the true nature of love and they have their “meeting” in the lines of sonnet 144.
Sonnet 116 is explaining the divine nature of love. Every quatrain is explaining a different vision on love. The last two lines are assuring the author’s stable views on the position he took about love in the previous quatrains. In this sonnet love is portrayed as platonic, there is an absence of the usual lust and desire connected with love. The author talks about the “marriage of true minds”, implying that in its purest form true love is platonic and it is connecting the minds of the people in sacred union. This type of love is the first type of love Shakespeare is explaining in the consequences of the young man sonnets. In 116 he is picturing this type of love as eternal and unshakable from different difficulties, even time is not strong enough to break the idea of this perfect relationship between minds. Again the flesh is denied as a part of the perfect love “Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks”. This illustration of true love is a strong indication that the author’s view of love is beyond flesh, because time could delete the beauty and thus the true love could only be found in the connection of the “true minds”. In sonnet 116 Shakespeare is presenting the idea that the mind is where love begins and so this type of love is the real and the most durable one.
In contrast in sonnet 147 the author is talking about his other type of love – the dark lady. This type of love is compared to an incurable illness. The author uses this metaphor through the whole sonnet to present the hopeless situation he is in. In contrast to sonnet 116, here love is connected with illness and death “Desire is death, which physic did except”. There is nothing immortal and pure as it was in the sonnet written for the young man. The desire for the flesh is the metaphor of the death of the pure love; Shakespeare sees that type of love as the one that could metaphorically kill his soul. The dark lady is pictured as the “physician to my love”; she is the only one who is able to cure him. But the cure here is still keeping with the sinful habit of loving the dark lady. The author is struggling over his knowledge that type of love is lustful and connected with the flesh , and thus he knows he needs to overcome it , on the other hand he is not able to go away from his habit of loving the mistress and this is creating a dilemma for him. Again as the usual Shakespearean sonnet format the last two lines represent the resolution of the previous three quatrains. Here in contrast of the sonnet 116, the author is stating his not sure future, and his weakness that even though he knows the dark lady is not “thee fair and thought thee bright”, he can’t refuse this type of love.
Those two sonnets are both discussing the same topic- love. The difference is the subject of the love in the two sonnets. In the first one the subject is the young man and thus love is immortal and overcoming everything. The author is sure about his intentions and the righteousness of this type of love. In sonnet 147, love is lustful and dark, it is disturbing the universe of the Shakespearean sonnets and it is forming an uncertain future for the author.
The meeting point of the two different aspects of Shakespearean love is in sonnet 144. There the author states his preferences towards the type of the love he has with the young man. His main issue is that probably there is a probability that his two worlds collide in one and thus he would be left out.
“Suspect I may, yet not directly tell;
but being both from me, both to each friend”
Also, in this sonnet the author is implying probably the idea of the bad angel, who will ruin his good angel, because she will ruin his pure idea of the image of the young man.
In sonnets 116 and 144 and Shakespeare is portraying his love universe and his different atititudes towards love. In 147, the lustful love and the platonic, pure love exist in the lines of the sonnet, creating a perplexed universe for the author. He is struggling to keep his love towards the young man pure, and to be able to escape from the lustful love of the dark lady. In sonnet 147 contrasting to the other two, a new question emerges, whether there is a possibility of neither of the loves to be the true one. Probably the resolution comes, when the platonic love is tested under the calls of the flesh.
Yet this shall I ne’er know, but live in doubt,
till my bad angel fire my good one out
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