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Sonnet 94
Sonnet 94
by William Shakespeare

Sonnet 94 Theme of Hypocrisy

Here's a question: does Sonnet 94 actually recommend hypocrisy as legit? It sure seems like it. In the beginning of the poem, the speaker mostly speaks about the powerful people's hypocrisy in an admiring way. He is really impressed by their ability to keep themselves hidden, to influence other people without being influenced themselves, and to be the "lords and owners of their faces." By the end of the poem, though, he seems not only to admire hypocrisy, but also to be actively recommending it. What's up with that, Big Willy?

Questions About Hypocrisy

  1. Does Sonnet 94 portray hypocrisy as always bad? Always good? Somewhere in between? How can you tell?
  2. What is the most hypocritical aspect of the powerful people's personalities? Does this have any modern day parallels in your world?
  3. Are there any descriptions of the powerful people that don't show them as hypocritical?
  4. Is the speaker recommending hypocrisy? How can you tell?

Chew on This

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

Sonnet 94 shows that hypocrisy can have some positive aspects, like when people seem like they could hurt you, but actually don't.

The speaker seems to be recommending hypocrisy, if it can prevent you from letting your negative qualities appear for the world to see.

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