Study Guide

Sonnet 133 Suffering

By William Shakespeare


"Torture" (30). "Torment" (8). "Wound" (2). "Slavery" (4). "Prison" (9). "Steel" (9). "Jail" (12). Those are just some of the words our speaker uses to describe how it feels to be caught up in a love triangle between his BFF and his "cruel" mistress. In Sonnet 133, he accuses his mistress of torturing him, and compares his suffering to being physically wounded in the heart, being enslaved, and being imprisoned. At one point, he even makes an allusion to crucifixion and suggests that his own "torment" is worse than Christ's. Over the top? Yep. Grotesque? Absolutely. But, all in all, it's pretty effective. All of the references to physical suffering give us a vivid sense of the speaker's emotional pain. It also gives us a clear sense of just how sick and twisted the love triangle has become.

Questions About Suffering

  1. Why do you think the speaker says his mistress' heart is a prison? What does it tell us about his situation?Ā 
  2. How does the speaker's allusion to the crucifixion of Christ impact our understanding of the speaker's suffering?
  3. Do you think our speaker is in as much pain as he says he is, or do you think he's a little overdramatic? Why?
  4. Do you believe the speaker when he says that he's suffering the most because his friend has been hurt by the mistress? Or do you think that's just a clever strategy for getting the mistress to stop sleeping around? How can you tell?

Chew on This

Reading Sonnet 133 is like watching the speaker suffer in some kind of freaky torture chamber where the pain and suffering keep getting worse and worse until, finally, the guy just gives up and accepts the idea that his mistress is never going to stop hurting him.

Dramatize much? When the speaker suggests that his suffering is worse than Christ's crucifixion, we wonder if the guy isn't being just a tad bit overdramatic about the supposed cruelty of his mistress.

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