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Sonnet 94 Theme of Isolation

One striking feature of the powerful people from Sonnet 94 is how isolated they are. On the one hand, the powerful people are isolated because they are more powerful than everybody else. Which makes sense—people with highly specialized or developed talents often find themselves isolated, and have difficulty relating to other people. But the powerful people are doubly isolated from others because they keep their true selves hidden behind a mask. What's strange about Shakespeare's sonnet is it seems to think that this isolation is a good thing, because it helps keep the powerful people stay safe and exercise restraint, so they don't stomp all over the rest of us suckers.

Questions About Isolation

  1. Which type of isolation is Sonnet 94 mainly about: social isolation or emotional isolation? Or are those two related?
  2. What does the speaker think is the best reason for the powerful people to stay isolated?
  3. Does the speaker portray isolation as having any downsides? 
  4. Does the poem offer any alternatives to isolation?

Chew on This

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

Even though it uses metaphors that reference social isolation, Sonnet 94 is mainly about emotional isolation.

The speaker thinks that the best reason for people to stay isolated is so that they can avoid becoming "infected" by other people.

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