• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Mysteries of the Sonnets Vargo

Extracts from this document...


The Mysteries of the Sonnets Vargo 1 William Shakespeare's sonnets may have been the best poetry ever written. The sonnets are beautifully written with many different feelings expressed in them. Although they may have been the most autobiographically written poems of all time, they still present a number of questions. Many Elizabethan historians and Shakespeare enthusiasts often wonder who Shakespeare was writing about when he wrote the sonnets. There are three main questions which come to mind when one is reading the sonnets. The mysterious dark lady, Mr. W. H., and the young man that Shakespeare wrote of are three of the sonnet mysteries. Although William Shakespeare did not write the sonnets to be a puzzle for the reader to solve, the dark lady of the sonnets is perhaps the most puzzling of the mysteries. There is a whole sequence of sonnets that mention the dark mistress. Sonnets 127-154 are the sonnets that deal with the dark lady. From these sonnets, a good description of the dark lady is given. The first of the dark lady sonnets, Sonnet 127, gives a good physical description of the mistress. "...Therefore my mistress' eyes are raven black, / Her eyes so suited, and they mourners seem/ At such who, not born fair, no beauty lack,/ Slandering creation with a false esteem./ Yet so they mourn becoming of their woe,/ That every tongue says beauty should look so" (Booth ed. ...read more.


William Shakespeare was in contact with many women throughout his life. Therefore, there are many theories as to who the mysterious mistress is. The most popular name concerning the dark lady's identity is Mary Fitton. Mary Fitton was a maid of honor to Queen Elizabeth and was a mistress to William Herbet. "She was a lively lady who became the mother of three illegitimate children by different men, but afterward married richly and died very respectable." (Harrison 44). The only problem with Fitton being the dark lady is that she did not possess the dark features that Shakespeare so vividly described throughout his poetry. In addition to Fitton, another woman named as the dark lady as Mistress Davenant. Davenant was the "wife of an Oxford innkeeper, who is thought to have favored both Shakespeare and Southampton, and who was darkly lustrous, has also been mentioned as possibly 'the dark lady'." (Ballou ed vii). The author Ivor Brown believes that "The name of the Dark Lady has been written off as an insoluble problem by many scholars and further research and speculation has been dismissed as a futile waste of time and trouble"(196). Whether or not the reader knows the name of the dark lady is irrelevant. All one needs to know is that William Shakespeare had a mistress that he had very lustful feelings about. ...read more.


(Rowse 176). This excerpt tells the reader that the Fair Friend had very feminine features and was probably wealthy and of good social stature. Shakespeare never mentions throughout the sonnets exactly what the young man looks like (Palmer 123). Vargo 4 The identity of the young man is one of the great mysteries of the sonnets. The main candidate for his identity is again Henry Wroithesley, the earl of Southampton. Wroithesly had very feminine features and was also the subject of many dedications of Shakespeare's works. Also, his marital activities make it seem that he and Shakespeare may have been involved somehow. Southampton refused to marry Lady Elizabeth Vere, who was the grand-daughter of Lord Burghley. The other main candidate for the young man is again the earl of Pembroke. His reasons for being considered are very similar to that of Southampton. Pembroke had an unsuccessfully negotiated marriage between himself and Elizabeth Carey. It is very hard to conjecture the identity of the young man, perhaps it is not even necessary to know his identity. The identity of Shakespeare's dark lady, Mr. W. H. and the young man in the sonnets are three mysteries that may never by solved. William Shakespeare did not intend for his sonnets to become a puzzle for his readers to solve. To find a definite answer to the mysteries of the sonnets would be a long and trying, if not impossible task. Instead, it is best that the mysteries of the sonnets are left to the imagination to ponder. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Shakespeare's Sonnets section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Shakespeare's Sonnets essays

  1. Examine the literary tradition of sonnet writing with particular reference to the sonnets of ...

    darling buds of May, which were an indication of the favourite flowers. summer's lease hath all too short a date suggests that summer does not last very long, although it is very beautiful. Shakespeare goes on to say, too hot the eye of heaven shines, this means that the sun can sometimes be too hot.

  2. Discuss the use of sonnets through the ages.

    This is a period of turmoil not only politically but also religiously. As a result of this the sonnets have a wider topic scope and tend to be personal. One of the poets at this time is John Milton. "On his deceased wife", was written by John Milton in the seventeenth century.

  1. The Dark Lady in ShakespeareŒs Sonnets.

    Thou art as tyrannous, so as thou art, 131.1-2 As those whose beauties proudly make them cruel... As well as there have been many speculations about the identity of the man to whom Shakespeare addressed nearly all of the first 126 sonnets there have been speculations about the identity of the so called Dark Lady.

  2. Shakespearian Love Sonnets.

    The next line, explains that the Sun's rays are sometimes too hot. Finally, Shakespeare states that the Sun is often blocked out by clouds. After this, it is explained in the poem that everything in nature will decline either by chance or naturally in a gradual manner in the lines:

  1. Compare and contrast the two sonnets "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" ...

    He goes on to say that he finds music to have a ''far more pleasing sound'' in comparison to when his mistress speaks. He also grants that he's never seen ''a goddess go'' and that his mistress ''when she walks treads on the ground'' he is being very pedantic when

  2. From the sonnets you have studied compare and comment upon three poems, explain why ...

    "Let me not", however has a different purpose. Instead of Shakespeare talking about his love, he chooses to teach people that 'true love' is the only love that will last. Again Shakespeare gets to the point of the sonnet at the beginning as the first quatrain talks about how love is not true love if there are any

  1. Love in Romeo and Juliet and Sonnets 18, 29 and 130.

    The ?he? could also refer to an ex-lover who has left him for someone else. In addition, within these quatrains, Shakespeare mentions that his ?bootless cries? fall on the ?deaf? ears of ?heaven?. This is an allusion to a character from the Old Testament, Job, and how he was cast

  2. How were some sonnets used to express different views on love?

    since the day she dies?, showing us that Longfellow?s love for his wife remains unchanged.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work