Shakespeare's Use of Homosexual Imagery in His Sonnets - Essay Example

This paper illustrates that the idea that Shakespeare’s sonnets depict homosexual desire has a long history, based primarily upon the dark imagery and the bitter tone brought into the sonnets, particularly as compared with the more common Petrarchan approach. …
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Shakespeares Use of Homosexual Imagery in His Sonnets

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Download file to see previous pages The researcher states that although the modern perception of poetry frequently holds that the only ‘real’ poetry consists of words and emotions that come straight from the heart in a burst of feeling, the poetry of Shakespeare and his contemporaries actually followed a relatively strict formula in writing their poetry known generally as the Petrarchan convention.  Within the typical formula, an idealistic feminine figure was presented as both the cause and the balm for all of the male lover’s sorrows. This forces him to endure any numbers of agonies and extremes of emotion even while she serves as a moral dynamic to impel him to new spiritual heights. Although Shakespeare’s sonnets differ from this tradition in terms of content, critics such as Stephen Booth recognize strong connections between Shakespeare’s sonnets and the traditional approach in terms of its technical elements. “In nearly two-thirds of Shakespeare’s Sonnets there are vestigial remains of the continental octave”, pointing out how Shakespeare’s careful blend of Continental tradition (sestet followed by an octet) within the English vogue of three quatrains and a couplet served to introduce an element of discomfort into his poetry that was then reinforced through its content. A look at the entire canon reveals of the 154 sonnets written, Shakespeare wrote 126 to an unidentified ‘Young Man’. This shift in focus from the traditional angelic woman, particularly as she is replaced, when employed, with a Dark Lady rather than the chaste princess of the virtue of other poets, has led many to assume that Shakespeare might have been homosexual, or was writing for a homosexual crowd. While there are valid reasons why this claim might be made, in the final analysis, it seems Shakespeare was, at most, possibly addressing a homosexual young man in an attempt to convince him to take up a more traditional heterosexual lifestyle. ...Download file to see next pagesRead more
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