The Theme of Love in Sonnet 141 by William Shakespeare

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Words: 568 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Oct 2, 2020

Words: 568|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Oct 2, 2020

The theme of Sonnet 141 conveyed by William Shakespeare, using specific language and tone, is that love might not always go both ways.

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In this particular sonnet, a man and a woman are in a committed relationship, but the man thinks himself foolish for loving her. For instance, the man explains that his heart loves her but he is contradictory to that. He believes the woman he loves may not be right for him. For example, he says in his lover reside “a thousand errors note”. Through the use of hyperbole, the author reveals the theme by exemplifying how many flaws the man sees in his lover. The theme expresses itself in this, as it would be unlikely for him to love one he sees so much wrong with. The critical man then goes on to say how he desires not to smell, taste, hear, “nor [share] tender feeling”. In line 6, the speaker asserts imagery to show how the man does not wish to be around his “lover” at all. Her appearance is atrocious to him. This type of language shows the reader that he may not love her at all. The man soon goes on to say he loves her, but he resents his “foolish heart for loving” her. The author’s diction in line 10 describes how it may be a mistake for him to love her. Even so, he gravitates toward the relationship that could be deteriorating to his character. He calls himself foolish for this reason as well. In conclusion, the author conveys the idea that the man is not particularly smart for sharing a relationship with a woman he has so much against.

Shakespeare writes that the man does not believe he gets much out of the relationship, further conveying the theme as the love is not both ways. To exemplify this, the man thinks out loud that she may not be the best woman for him. He knows he does not love her much and thinks he does not get enough back out of the relationship. The man says his eyes and senses despise her, but his heart “loves what they despise”. In line three, the poem shifts one of many times to where it seems as if he loves the woman, even after he talked dirt of her. This makes one see that the man is on the fence of loving her or hating her, thus conveying the theme. At one point, he says “proud hearts slave” to love one that is not right for them. Shakespeare creates a heavy tone through his use of personification to illustrate the idea that the man sees his love as a laborious task. For many obvious reasons, the man is not getting anything good out of the relationship. He even ventures as far as calling it work to love her, supporting this idea. Along with that, he describes his love for her, naming it as his “plague”. The effect of the metaphor comparing his love to a plague creates a mood of hazard and toxicity. The relationship is burdensome enough on the man to the point he would say it was like a deadly illness. The relationship does more harm than good for the man, even though his lover seems unhurt.

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In summation, Shakespeare conveys the theme by displaying the idea that the man was in a relationship that bore no rewards.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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The Theme Of Love In Sonnet 141 By William Shakespeare. (2020, October 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 19, 2024, from
“The Theme Of Love In Sonnet 141 By William Shakespeare.” GradesFixer, 10 Oct. 2020,
The Theme Of Love In Sonnet 141 By William Shakespeare. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 19 Apr. 2024].
The Theme Of Love In Sonnet 141 By William Shakespeare [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Oct 10 [cited 2024 Apr 19]. Available from:
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