How are Shakespeare's sonnets a record of his personal experiences?
Shakespeare's sonnets record the matters which were most important to the poet: his intense love affairs and his hopes of achieving immortality through his work. Beyond these general themes, there have been various attempts to reconstruct a more precise story, with figures including a fair youth, a dark lady, and a rival poet, but scholars have differed widely on the story the sonnets tell.
In his short story, "The Portrait of Mr. W.H.," Oscar Wilde explores a theory, which he may or may not actually have believed, about the mysterious figure to whom Shakespeare's sonnets are dedicated. In popular Shakespearean scholarship, only the pastime of finding alternative authors for the plays, from the Earl of Oxford to Christopher Marlowe, has occasioned more theories than the search for a story behind Shakespeare's sonnets.
The following statements are relatively uncontroversial. The majority of Shakespeare's sonnets (1-126) are addressed to a young man, apparently of noble...
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