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Symbol Analysis

Just because there are a bunch of references to clothing in this sonnet don't think for a second that your rich Uncle Shakespeare is going to be taking you on a shopping spree any time soon. Basically, the speaker of Sonnet 146 beats himself up for being so preoccupied with fancy duds and all the other stuff we like to deck out our bodies with (accessories, bling, cosmetics, etc.).

That's makes sense given that this poem is all about rejecting expensive material items and spending more time developing a rich, inner, spiritual life. The speaker's point is that we should focus on inner beauty and worth and stop worrying so much about what we look like on the outside. After all, you can't take your favorite jeans or those expensive new kicks with you when you die.

  • Line 2: "Array" means to clothe or dress so, here, the speaker makes it sound like his rebellious body is covering up his soul with a bunch of clothes. We're not quite sure where the speaker is going with this metaphor until we reach line 3.
  • Line 3: This is where our speaker refers to his body parts as a bunch of "walls" that get "painted." On the one hand, he's comparing the human body to a house that gets decorated with a bunch of fancy stuff on the outside. At the same time, we know that the "walls" of a human being = the body and its parts. Why does that matter? Because we "paint" or decorate our bodies with stuff like clothing, jewelry, and make-up, right? This reinforces and further develops the clothing metaphor the speaker used back at line 2.
  • Line 7: Dude's getting pretty creepy here when he reminds us that worms are not only going to eat our corpses when we die, but they're also going to munch their way through all the clothes that are on our dead bodies. In other words, we can't take any of that stuff with us when we go, so it's pretty much worthless.
  • Line 12: When the speaker tells his soul to stop trying to be "rich" on the outside, it sounds like he's saying that people shouldn't be so worried about expensive material things like fancy duds and jewelry and stuff. Hmm. Does out speaker have a little spending problem? Sounds like it to Shmoop.

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