Shakespeare Sonnet 87 Analysis

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An Exegesis of Shakespeare Sonnet 87 In his plays and poems, the Bard fails not to explore all aspects of love – including rejection. Sonnet 87 is a testimony of breaking up, not because of relationship issues, not due to external forces (such as an affair), but because on some social scale in the poet’s eye, the woman is higher up. Yet the sonnet is deliberately ambiguous. As is characteristic of Shakespeare’s writing, a close reading reveals that we can’t tell if he is talking about a too-expensive call girl, or the love of his life. Perhaps on some level to a genius it is both. In either case, in the rich language of Shakespeare’s poetry, financial and sexual images mingle once again while a host of other literary tools reinforce the theme…show more content…
“Estimate” (2), “charter,” (3), “worth” (ibid.) and “bonds” (4) clearly further the theme of preciousness (for money seems to be the lingua franca of the English speaking peoples, if not all peoples) and “releasing” (3) can mean release from a debt or obligation just as easily as it can mean release from a hug or embrace. “Determinate” (4) ends the first quatrain and two things make sense: that the word itself means “finish,” and it is followed by an end-stop. While the poem “seems” to ask many questions of self-doubt about one’s worth, there is in fact only one question mark used by the sonneteer, and it is found in the second quatrain. First, line five perpetuates the sexual/financial blurred imagery, as “hold thee” underscores the whole ownership theme, and “granting” connotes a grant – a financial gift. From this “gift,” (7) which he calls “riches” (6), he questions “where is my deserving?” (ibid). To indicate that he, the poet, is simply not worth the woman, he asserts in line 7 that “the cause of this fair gift is wanting” (lacking on his part). The quatrain ends with more imagery of ownership with “patent” (8) and ambiguous language, as “back” (ibid). can mean remembering back or his own back that he must now remove from his
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