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Sonnet 29 Theme of Friendship

Ah, friendship. Shakespeare totally gets it, Shmoopsters. Long before The Beatles came along and wrote about how we can all get by "With a Little Help from [Our] Friends," our favorite codpiece-loving poet was breaking it all down for us in iambic pentameter. When Sonnet 29 opens, the speaker feels friendless and alone, but, after some inner refection, he suddenly remembers the "sweet love" of some unnamed mystery person and it's enough to lift him out of his depression and give him a new outlook on life. Not only that, but this friendship is so powerful that it functions as the speaker's spiritual salvation. Whoa! That's a pretty big testament to the power of friendship, don't you think? (Yeah, yeah. We know there's some critical debate about whether or not the speaker is talking about the "sweet love" of a friend or a super-steamy, secret lover, but, in our "Quotes and Thoughts" section, we'll show you how to make a strong argument for the friendship theory.

Questions About Friendship

  1. The speaker claims he's got zero friends. Do we believe him? Why or why not?
  2. Do we really know for sure if the person being addressed in this poem is a friend of the speaker? Is it possible our guy is talking to a lover or a relative or even his cat?
  3. Compare the theme of friendship in this sonnet to Sonnet #30. Does Sonnet 30 give you any insight into the theme of friendship in Sonnet 29?

Chew on This

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

When the speaker refers to the unnamed mystery person's "sweet love," he's talking about the kind of love one feels for a good friend. Sweet. 

Nope. Wrong. Thanks for playing. There's absolutely no evidence in this sonnet that our speaker is talking about a "friend" when he says he remembers someone's "sweet love."

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