Beauty or Beast?

Throughout almost all of Shakespeare’s sonnets he talks of beauty. Particularly, when he is talking about beauty he is referring to a man. He writes at first describing the admiration he feels toward this person and how his looks are like no other, which is very positive in a couple of his sonnets. In some of the sonnets, however, I got a very possessive feel. Although Shakespeare writes about how he adores and dotes over him a lot of the sonnets end with Shakespeare saying something about how it is this mans duty and responsibility to share his beauty with the world. For example in sonnet 3 he writes:

“So thou through windows of thine age shall see

Despite of wrinkles this thy golden time.

But if thou live, remember’d not to be,

Die single, and thine image dies with thee.”

I interpreted from this sonnet, and a few others, that it is not only this mans job to share his beauty, but it is also his job to not let his beauty die with him. Shakespeare encourages the man to marry a woman and to have children so when the man is old and “wrinkly” he can see himself in his “golden time” or prime years in his child. The possessive feel then comes in with the last two lines that mean that if he dies without marrying and having children his beauty will be forever lost to the world. Every time I come across a similar sonnet I feel like Shakespeare would be hugely disappointed if this man did not pass on his beauty. It feels like Shakespeare created this person in his mind and set him free into the world to share his beauty with others and if he were to not share the beauty it would be the end all and be all because no beauty ever existed like that before it and it will never exist again. This man could have existed but also this could have been something that Shakespeare created and heightened in his mine to the point where he felt responsible for him. I get a sense of very high stakes in each of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Nothing is taken lightly. It would be the worst thing in the world if this young man let his beauty die because Shakespeare and others would no longer be able to enjoy it.

– Maddie Poeta

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