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Sonnet 146 Theme of Religion

Sonnet 146 has a rep for being Shakespeare's most religious poem. Which makes a lot of sense. After all, there are some pretty major biblical shout-outs in this sonnet and the speaker's ideas about life and death seem to be shaped by traditional Christian theology. He reasons that since life on earth is so short, he should spend his time and energy working on his inner spiritual life so his soul can spend eternity in heaven.

Questions About Religion

  1. The speaker never uses words like "God," "salvation," "heaven," or "Judgment Day." Why do you think that is? Why not be more explicit?
  2. Do readers have to share this sonnet's Christian views in order to find the speaker's arguments convincing? Why or why not?
  3. What is it that makes this a "religious" poem, exactly? Wait a second. Is this even a religious poem in the first place?
  4. Why does the speaker think it's possible to defeat death?

Chew on This

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

Despite the fact that our speaker never comes right out and says the words "God" or "salvation," his goal is to make it to heaven so he can kick it with God for all of eternity.

Even though our speaker argues about the importance of having a rich spiritual life, he never actually tells us how to go about doing it. Not only that, but the sonnet is more than a little vague about how this guy plans on getting in to heaven. So not helpful, Shakey.

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