University of Cambridge

Sonnet 57- Shakespeare


Sonnet 57- Shakespeare:

According to Shakespeare’s sonnet 57, Shakespeare has a different altitude towards love. He finds love as complete folly where it reprimands the lover. The lover is seen to unreasonably submit to his love despite the ill treatment he receives in return. “I have no precious time at all to spend,” (3) illustrates how the speaker abandons his work to tend his lover and doesn’t bother when his love spends hours outside with others “Nor dare I question with my jealous thought, Where you may be, or your affairs suppose” (9, 10).

Shakespeare regards love as slavery where the lover does nothing of his own but what his master, his love, orders “Nor services to do, till you require” (4). The lover admits he is a foolish slave who can do nothing even when offended by his lover “So true a fool is love, that in your will” (13) “Though you do any thing, he thinks no ill.” (14).

There is irony in the sonnet in the last two lines “So true a fool is love, that in your will” (13) and “Though you do any thing, he thinks no ill” (14) where the speaker pretends to be so much in the love that he doesn’t get sad despite what the lover does to him. This is ironic since no true love can come without jealousy.

It is also ironic that though the lover admits to recognize that he is being enslaved by love “Being you slave, what should I do but tend” (1), he continues to abide in the love. The speaker alleges no bitterness when the lover is absent with others, “Nor think the bitterness of absence sour” (7), but the fact that he keeps watching the clock, “Whilst I, my sovereign, watch the clock for you” (6), is a clear indication that he is not comfortable with the absence of his lover, thus portraying irony.

The irony in the poem serves to indicate the discomfort in the love yet the lover blindly continues to abide. It criticizes such extremity of love.

Reference:

Schalkwyk D. (2008). Shakespeare, Love and Service: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

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