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Sonnet 133 Theme of Love

Look. We have no idea if our speaker is actually "in love" with his mistress, or if he just really likes hooking up with her, despite the fact that she's also romantically involved with his BFF. (Check out "Themes: Sex" if you want to know more about the hooking up part.) Here's what we do know: the speaker of Sonnet 133 uses a boatload of clichés from popular love poetry to describe the emotional pain of being in a love triangle. (His heart's been "wounded," he feels like a "prisoner" and a "slave" to his mistress, etc., etc., etc.) We also know that, even though our speaker is ticked off at his two-timing mistress, he absolutely loves and adores his friend. (Yeah, the same dude who's been getting busy with our speaker's girlfriend.) We talk more about that in "Themes: Friendship." As far as love goes, though, this poem sketches out one bizarre triangle.

Questions About Love

  1. What kinds of clichés does the speaker use to describe the pain of being in a love triangle? What's the overall effect of using so many clichés? Does it make the speaker seem more genuine or does it make him sound like kind of a phony?
  2. Why, exactly, does the speaker feel so tortured? Is it simply because his girl is a two-timer? Or, is it because she's been hurting the speaker's friend? Something else? What parts of the poem give you your ideas? 
  3. Why do you think the speaker blames his mistress and not his friend for the love triangle?
  4. Check out the final couplet (last two lines) of the sonnet. Why does the speaker think there's no way out of the love triangle?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

When the speaker uses a bunch of cheesy clichés to describe his pain, it makes us wonder if he's really all that heartbroken. Who knows? Maybe he's just being a drama queen and a poetic show-off.

Even though the speaker uses a boatload of poetic love clichés, they're super-effective because they really do give us a sense of the speaker's emotional pain and suffering.

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