Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
Beshrew that heart that makes my heart to groan
For that deep wound it gives my friend and me.
- Okay. If we were expecting some romantic love poem that we could recite at our cousin's wedding, we've got another think coming.
- The speaker comes right out and says something like "Hey! Screw you and that heart of yours for breaking my heart and the heart of my BFF." OMG. We think we've got a love triangle on our hands.
- So, who's our speaker talking to here?
- Normally, we don't like to get ahead of ourselves, but we're just going to come right out and say this. We know from the context of the entire sonnet sequence that he's probably addressing the same mistress (a.k.a. girlfriend) that shows up all over Sonnets 127-152. (FYI: literary critics like to call her the "Dark Lady.")
- Most literary critics also assume that the "friend" in question here is the same dude our speaker addresses in Sonnets 1-126. This guy is also known as the "Fair Youth" and our speaker is just a tad bit obsessed with him.
- That said, you don't need to have read all 154 sonnets to understand this poem. And, you also don't have to agree with those scholars we just mentioned. We just want to give you a heads up.
- Now, back to Sonnet 133 and those hearts...
- So, technically, hearts can't "wound" other hearts. This is a pretty common metaphor for the kind of emotional pain and suffering people often experience in romantic relationships.
- It's also a huge cliché in the courtly love tradition, where lovers are always running around getting their hearts wounded by Cupid's arrows and stuff.
- (FYI: Shakespeare's sonnets are full of courtly love conventions, so we should start getting used to it ASAP because they're going to pop up a lot in this poem.)
- Of course, Shakespeare takes this wounded heart stuff to the next level by using personification. When our speaker says that his heart "groan[s]" in agony (as if his heart is some kind of physically injured person), we're a little grossed out, but we really do feel the guy's pain.
- What's odd is that our Speaker talks like there's only one "deep wound" here. Why is that? If the mistress is involved with two different dudes and is breaking each of their hearts, shouldn't there be two different "wounds"?
- Oh, wait. We get it. Our Speaker is making a dirty joke by punning on the word "wound."
- "Wound" is Elizabethan slang for "vagina," so he's saying that his mistress has been "giv[ing]" hers up to both him and his buddy.
- He's also being super-insulting by using the adjective "deep," which is kind of like comparing her to the Grand Canyon. (Raunchy, we know.)
- So, the dirty joke brings us back to the word "groan," which now takes on a whole new meaning. Our speaker is also suggesting that getting busy with his mistress causes him to "groan" in ecstasy.
- In other words, he is still totally hot for her, despite the fact that she's sleeping with his buddy.
- TMI? Yeah, but it tells us something important: this little love triangle isn't just about emotional and psychological "wounds." Even if our speaker won't come right out and say it, we know it's also about sexual betrayal and obsession.
- One last thing before we move on. Shakespeare's sonnets are mostly written in iambic pentameter, a type of meter that sounds like this: daDUM, daDUM, daDUM, daDUM, daDUM. Go to "Form and Meter" for more about this.
Is't not enough to torture me alone,
But slave to slavery my sweet'st friend must be?
- This is interesting, don't you think? Our Speaker makes it sound like he's suffering mostly because he hates seeing his friend being abused by his mistress.
- Here, he asks a rhetorical question that's basically just a way for him to accuse his mistress of getting off on tormenting men.
- He's all "Dang, it's not enough for you to just 'torture' me? You have to turn my 'sweet'st' BFF into your pathetic love slave, too?!"
- Gee. Exaggerate much?
- The repetition in the phrase "slave to slavery" is pretty over the top. It's also kind of crude because it's the equivalent of saying that the guy is totally whipped.
- And, even though the speaker says his buddy is the one who has been turned into a "slave," we sort of get the sense that our speaker feels like one too, especially since he's accusing his mistress of "tortur[ing]" him.
- Of course, the idea of torture makes his use of the word "slavery" even more menacing.
- By the way, Shakespeare's giving a shout-out to another courtly love convention. (In this case, it's the one where dudes are always running around swearing that they are the willing "slaves" or "servants" of their ladies.)
- Usually, being a slave to love is a metaphor for being completely devoted to loving and admiring someone.
- But here, being a "slave to slavery" seems like a metaphor for the total lack of self-control or power these two men have in their relationship with an abusive woman.
- This reinforces the idea that our speaker and his "sweet'st friend" are both innocent victims in all of this.
- That's weird, right? Doesn't it take two to tango? (Or, in this case, three to tango?)
- Why is all the blame getting heaped on the mistress? How can the speaker's buddy be the "sweet'st" when the dude has gone out and hooked up with his best friend's girl? Maybe reading on will yield some clues…