What is the narrative perspective of Shakespeare's Sonnet 29?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare's Sonnet 29, "When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes", is written in the first person. The narrator initially describes himself as somewhat of an outsider, for who things are not going well. He is suffering misfortune, and looked down upon by others. He feels as though is is alone in his sorrow, and despised by and outcast from society. The speaker even feels abandoned by God, as Heaven seems deaf to his prayers or cries. He is envious of the abilities and positions of others and feels restless and unhappy even when doing the things he most enjoys.

After reciting this litany of woes in the octave though, the narrator shifts focus in the sestet to other aspects of his life, including his being happily in love, and decides that in fact, his lot is actually enviable. Thus as readers, we are led to suspect that the statements in the octave are not literal descriptions of the speaker's situation in life, but rather than he has been overstating the unpleasant nature of his situation due to a temporary mood of melancholy or despair which influences his emotional perspective.