What is the theme of Shakespeare's Sonnet 75?

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

William Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets.  Sonnets 1-126 were dedicated to a young man that Shakespeare greatly loved and admired. “Sonnet LXXV” is one of these sonnets. The poem addresses the love of the poet for his young man.


This sonnet is about obsessive love.  In his confusion about this strong need for his lover, the poet discovers that his compulsion exceeds food and money. The necessity for the lover is so strong that he guards it as someone who is afraid that he will lose it.

Frustrated, he does not know how to handle his feelings. Sometimes, he is happy and satisfied. Other times when the young man is away or not around the poet, he struggles and craves to see him and be with him. His only happiness comes from being with the young man.  Night and day, he yearns for the love of the young man.


The sonnet begins with a loving metaphorical tribute to the necessity of the young man’s love to the poet. His love is his sustenance in life: food and water.    It is just as important as rain is to the growing plants in the ground. To have the young man in his life, the poet struggles like a miser does over his money.   

As 'twixt a miser and his wealth is found.
Now proud as an enjoyer, and anon
Doubting the filching age will steal his treasure;
Now counting best to be with you alone...

Sometimes the miser enjoys his money, and other times he worries that someone will take it from him. There is an old adage that says “Do not get between a miser and his money.” This is how the poet feels about his love. The poet’s love borders on the obsessive since he cannot live without the love of this man.

He most  enjoys  the time that he spends alone with his lover, but then he wonders why not share his pleasure with the world. The reader might wonder if the poet is afraid to share his lover with the outside world because someone might try to take the man from him.

When he looks at the young man, he feels excessive pleasure and satisfaction. Times passes, and he wants to see him again.  The poet does not enjoy life unless it is time spent with his lover. Only the man gives him pleasure. His dependence on this love and lover borders on an unhealthy relationship.

zozobra1 | Student

Well a theme is an overall message presented throughout a novel.  Universal themes are messages that apply universally, or to all people.

For example, a universal theme can be: "All people can rise above hardships, even the most challenging ones", or "Prejudice is a terrible thing"

Hope this helps.

Read the study guide:
Shakespeare's Sonnets

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