In the poem, sonnet 29, William Shakespeare uses three different tones to describe the speaker’s mood and attitude toward his state. The speaker resembles Shakespeare’s life in 1592, a time when London’s theatres were closed down because of the plague. Using three tones; despair, jealousy, and hope, the speaker’s feelings are successfully portrayed in this sonnet. This poem is a traditional sonnet, with the first eight lines, an octave, showing the dark, depressing mood of the speaker.
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Suddenly a happy, more joyous tone, the sonnet transitions to a sestet, the last six lines of the poem. The first tone that is portrayed is despair. Because of the plague, all of the actors and playwrights had very little work to do since all of the theatres had been closed down. The poem reads, “When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state. ” Shakespeare uses these lines to illustrate how alone and lost the speaker feels. Because there aren’t any plays to write or perform, he is making very little money, and feels in disgrace with fortune.
However, as the sonnet continues, we see the speaker’s mood lighten. In the second part of the octave, we see the speaker’s second tone portrayed. The speaker is now feeling jealous of what other people have, and starts to wish that he was better looking, and had more friends. “Featured like him, like him with friends possessed, desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope. ” The speaker is envious of others, but his emotions start to change, and he goes from being jealous of others to relatively happy rather quickly.
In the sextet, the last part of the poem, we see a hopeful or happy tone. Shakespeare illustrates the speaker as a happy person that is content with his state. The first four lines of the sestet illustrate how when the speaker started to think about his lover, he immediately transitioned to a happy state. “Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, haply I think on thee. ” The speaker started to think about his partner, then about whom he really is, and it made him become at peace with himself.
In the third to last line, the poem reads, “Sings hymns at heaven’s gate. ” Earlier in the poem, in the third line, the poem reads, “And trouble heaven with my bootless cries. ” This comparison, from when the speaker is depressed and crying out to heaven without an answer, to when the speaker has been lifted out of his depressed state, illustrates how much has changed in the speaker’s countenance throughout the poem, and how thinking of one person can completely change your views on life.
This poem, with its three different tones, really illustrates how down life can get, but how one person can instantly change the way you feel. The last two lines of the poem wrap up the entire sonnet. They read, “From thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings, that then I scorn to change my state with kings. ” The speaker started to think about that one person, and realized that even with all the wealth that he could have, he wouldn’t trade his current position in life for anything.