Antinomies of Desire and the Sonnets

Belsey Catherine

in Shakespeare in Theory and Practice

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2008 | ISBN: 9780748633012
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652235 | DOI:
Antinomies of Desire and the Sonnets

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This chapter is concerned with the element of antagonism implicit in love. Antagonism appears in a variety of contexts, but most obviously in the group concerning the so-called Dark Lady. The sonnet shares a line of descent with the troubadour poems of courtly love. Unlike the dark woman's, the young man's beauty is never in question, and yet it becomes a target for aggression of another kind. The dark woman and the fair young man are not the poet's only antagonists in the Sonnets. Perhaps, indeed, they are not even the primary objects of his love and hate. Love's use, allotted to women, might then be read as the production of children, with no commitment either way as to the practice of the love the poet desires for his own.

Keywords: love; antagonism; Dark Lady; Sonnets; hate; desire

Chapter.  9743 words. 

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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