In the past, perhaps, thespeaker’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 areoverpowered. His rational mind, which he depends on for truth and sanity, has left him inthe face of love. The torment of love has made it impossible for the speaker to maketruthful, 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 bythe whims of emotion (“Companion to” 44).
At the beginning of Sonnet 147, the speaker’slove 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 tobecome “frantic-mad (Line 10). ” He continues, “My thoughts and my discourse as madmen’s are, /At random from the truth vainly expressed (Lines 10 and 11). ” The languageShakespeare chooses further emphasizes the crazed effect love has had on the speaker’smind (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 runningwild and uncontrolled. This love not only makes him go insane, it also blinds him from thetruth (Rowse, A Biography, 74). He says, “For I have sworn thee fair and thought theebright, /Who art as black as hell, as dark as night (Lines 13 and 14) . ” The speaker’slogical mind knows that his woman is evil, yet his love for her blinds him and he sees heras beautiful.
Love, then, is, for Shakespeare, a force that operates within several differentcontexts. As such, love has a multi-faceted definition, which yields to a multi-facetedidentity. Shakespeare defines love in three different ways. First, love can be seen as an internal force fighting against other internal forces, as we seein Sonnet 147, where the speaker’s inner turmoil stems from the battle of his love againsthis reason within himself.
Second, Shakespeare epics love as an internal force whichbattles external forces, such as social pressures. Finally, Shakespeare portrays love on aneven 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, iflove is an overwhelming, forceful entity that defeats time, death, social pressures, andreason, then love is no longer simply an internalized emotion; it is also an externalizedpower which can exist independent of human beings (Booth 22). Sonnet 147 deals withlove as an internal agony where there is no mention of outside forces at play.
This is apersonal poem where Shakespeare uses the metaphor of disease and illness to representthe obsessive love which has taken over his speaker’s senses (“The Works” 119) . Thespeaker describes an internal battle where his mind is being devoured by his crazedsickness, love. Both his love and his reason though, are internalized, sparring forces. Incontrast to poem 147, Sonnet 130 describes the experiences of a man’s struggle againstexternal, social factors, such as his culture’s romantic ideal for one’s beloved. Here, thespeaker’s love is an internal force which overcomes external factors, as the speaker useslove as a justification for his adoring relationship with a woman (“The Works” 134). InSonnet 116, Shakespeare goes one step further, and depicts two external forces, Love and