Created on: August 14, 2009
William Shakespeare's Sonnet 129 deals with the issue of lust and human promiscuity. Shakespeare explains his biting criticism of lust through fourteen lines of contemplation.
In the first eight lines, Shakespeare details just what lust is: "The expense of spirit in a waste of shame / Is lust in action: and till action, lust / Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame, / Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust; / Enjoyed no sooner but despised straight; / Past reason hunted; and no sooner had, / Past reason hated, as a swallowed bait, / On purpose laid to make the taker made" (1-8). Shakespeare divides lust into two parts: lust in action and lust while it builds up.
Lust in action is referred to in terms of a sexual act: "the expense of spirit in a waste of shame" (1). The expense is release, while spirit refers to a person's inner life-force (or literal life-force for men). Thus for Shakespeare, sex for lustful purposes is completely pointless and will only bring shame. Moreover, Shakespeare hints that sex in lust is fruitless in terms of what it will bring sexually. In other words, sex for natural reproductive reasons has a purpose and thus is no waste. There is still an "expense of spirit" but it is for the betterment of man (reproduction).
Sex for lust on the other hand is just for personal gain and thus the "expense of spirit" is literally fruitless or a "waste" because it is not for reproduction. No good can from this lust because it is releasing evil into the world. After all, while lust releases the build-up of feelings and pent up energy in humans, these feelings are nothing short of a heinous.
According to Shakespeare, lust should never be trusted (4), and he goes so far to say that it: "Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame" (3). Thus Shakespeare's feelings of lust at the ready, or building to the point of release are much like a murderer's thoughts. These feelings haunt and plague a human's mind, and they relentlessly toil away, bothering the human until the only option is release. Unfortunately, when humans act upon their lust, nothing is gained.
For one, the feeling of release is "Enjoyed no sooner but despised straight;" or hated as soon as the act is over. In addition, the release of lust has only allowed lust to spread and, worst of all, those that act upon lust don't even receive relief. Instead, the lust multiplies with each encounter, causing the unfortunate to go into a tormented madness (which is why they would be "Past
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Poetry analysis: Sonnet 129, by William Shakespeare
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