Shakespeare's Sonnets by William Shakespeare

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Please explain Shakespeare's Sonnet 144.

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In William Shakespeare's Sonnet 144, the author's intent seems to be describing two sides of his nature: that which is good and that which is dark, a common topic.

One is reminded of Marlowe's Faustus (in his play Doctor Faustus) as he struggles between what he knows to be good (represented by an angel hovering over his head) and the temptations of evil (represented by Mephistopheles, the agent of the devil).

In Shakespeare's poem, the same struggle is the topic of the fourteen lines of his sonnet, and the two sides involved in the fight are introduced in the first line:

Two loves I have of comfort and despair...

This line notes that the speaker is undergoing an internal struggle. The good is represented by "comfort," while the bad is presented as "despair," a lack of hope. The second line conveys the movement back and forth between these two extremes that "urge" him on. Line three notes that that which is good is pleasant to look at ("fair")—maybe the spiritual aspect of a person, while the other side, the "worser spirit" is a woman, "colour'd ill" (perhaps dark-haired and sultry) maybe the physical. This may well allude to the man being in control—and his appearance an indication of his virtuous spirit—while the antagonist is presented as a woman, often seen as a temptress, a seductress—one that leads a man to his physical downfall—unable to resist the lure of the flesh. This comparison might well be an allusion to Eve in the Garden of Eden in the Bible's book of Genesis. Light is often associated with good, while the dark is associated with evil.

As the struggle continues, the speaker notes that the female within (the darker spirit) tries to "corrupt my saint to be a devil."...

(The entire section contains 604 words.)

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