Analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 111

Shakespeare’s sonnet # 111 has a special twist as in relation to the others because of its content formatting. One could refer to this sonnet as a confessional poem. It is confessional because of certain aspects. First, the poet is in a state of lamentation regarding his misfortune and deeds. This places the poet in a different state of reference or state of mind as the human subject undergoing the corresponding grief of lamentation.

Secondly, the poet has made numerous references to himself throughout the sonnet. He uses the form of “me,” “my,” and “I” in a variety of ways throughout the poem. Note that in essence confessional poetry addresses subjects that are closed to the public, such as private experiences, trauma, death, depression, and other types of personal relationship references. However, here we find the poet using various types of pronouns in that confessional sense.

Some well-known confessional poets of this era are as follows: Anne Saxton, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, and W.D. Snodgrass. Their poems were more personal and used the pronoun “I” in many instances. Confessional poetry has changed the landscape of American poetry in a variety of ways. However, before the 1950 and 1960, which is classified as the “great era” of confessional poetry, here we find Shakespeare using the confessional poetic nature in almost every line of this sonnet.

Next, one could also change the tone of the argument and state that this sonnet is self-referential. It states in the affirmative a process of direct address to the self. For example, in this state of lamentation one will find the following lines and words:

Line # 1: for my sake

Line # 2: of my harmful deeds

Line # 3: for my life provides

Line # 5: my name receives

Line # 6: my nature is subdued

Line # 8: pity me; which I were renew’d

Line # 9: I will drink

Line # 10: my strong infection

Line # 11: I will bitter think

Line # 13: Pity me; I assure ye

Line # 14: cure me

Obviously, the poet is in a deep state of confession, depression, and/or making reference to himself as a result of his lamenting state of mind. However, in the alternative we see that the poet is also seeking redemption based on his confessional language used, such as: “pity me,” “cure me,” and “wish I were renew’d.” As a result, one could classify this sonnet as one of a confessional nature from the heart, thus seeking redemption of the soul.