Beowulf Essay

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The strength of his rational mind is not diminishing the pains of his emotions. On the

contrary, the speaker is losing his sanity as time progresses. In the past, perhaps, the

speaker’s rational thought processes allowed him to cope with failed romances. However,

in the presence of this love for his dark mistress, all his logical mental abilities are

overpowered. His rational mind, which he depends on for truth and sanity, has left him in

the face of love. The torment of love has made it impossible for the speaker to make

truthful, objective observations about his world (“Companion to” 43). In this poem,

Shakespeare claims that it is love, not reason, that shapes one’s perception of the world,

for one’s mind, the ideal and rational judgment-maker, is subject to and overwhelmed by

the whims of emotion (“Companion to” 44). At the beginning of Sonnet 147, the speaker’s

love is described as a fever, but as the sonnet continues, the effects of love intensify.

Towards the end of the poem, love has completely overwhelmed his mind, inducing him to

become “frantic-mad (Line 10).” He continues, “My thoughts and my discourse as mad

men’s are, /At random from the truth vainly expressed (Lines 10 and 11).” The language

Shakespeare chooses further emphasizes the crazed effect love has had on the speaker’s

mind (Rowse, A Biography 72). The word “discourse”, for instance, derives from Latin,

meaning “to run about.” The use of this word creates a clear image of a mad man running

wild and uncontrolled. This love not only makes him go insane, it also blinds him from the

truth (Rowse, A Biography, 74). He says, “For I have sworn thee fair and thought thee

bright, /Who art as black as hell, as dark as night (Lines 13 and 14) .” The speaker’s

logical mind knows that his woman is evil, yet his love for her blinds him and he sees her

as beautiful.

Love, then, is, for Shakespeare, a force that operates within several different

contexts. As such, love has a multi-faceted definition, which yields to a multi-faceted

identity. Shakespeare defines love in three different ways.

First, love can be seen as an internal force fighting against other internal forces, as we see

in Sonnet 147, where the speaker’s inner turmoil stems from the battle of his love against

his reason within himself. Second, Shakespeare epics love as an internal force which

battles external forces, such as social pressures. Finally, Shakespeare portrays love on an

even larger scale, where Love is an external power that, independent of any individual,

struggles against and then defeats Time, another external entity (Booth 14). Clearly, if

love is an overwhelming, forceful entity that defeats time, death, social pressures, and

reason, then love is no longer simply an internalized emotion; it is also an externalized

power which can exist independent of human beings (Booth 22). Sonnet 147 deals with

love as an internal agony where there is no mention of outside forces at play. This is a

personal poem where Shakespeare uses the metaphor of disease and illness to represent

the obsessive love which has taken over his speaker’s senses (“The Works” 119) . The

speaker describes an internal battle where his mind is being devoured by his crazed

sickness, love. Both his love and his reason though, are internalized, sparring forces. In

contrast to poem 147, Sonnet 130 describes the experiences of a man’s struggle against

external, social factors, such as his culture’s romantic ideal for one’s beloved. Here, the

speaker’s love is an internal force which overcomes external factors, as the speaker uses

love as a justification for his adoring relationship with a woman (“The Works” 134). In

Sonnet 116, Shakespeare goes one step further, and depicts two external forces, Love and

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