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Analysis

What’s Up With the Title?

When they were first printed in 1609, Shakespeare's sonnets were given numbers (1-154) instead of titles. Since Shakespeare probably had nothing to do with the publication of his work, we're not sure who came up with the order. But, we do know that the order of the sonnets is important because the sequence unfolds like a mini soap-opera. Sonnets 1-126 are all addressed to a young dude critics like to call the "Fair Youth." (This is probably the same "friend" mentioned in Sonnet 133, who's been having an affair with our speaker's mistress.) Sonnets 127-152 are often called the "Dark Lady" sonnets because they're all about the speaker's affair with a dark-haired and dark-skinned mistress. Sometimes the sonnets are referred to by their first lines. Sonnet 133, for example, is often called "Beshrew that heart" or "Beshrew that heart that makes my heart to groan."

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