The Use of Hopeless Diction and Repetition to Portray Insecurities in Sonnet 29

In Shakespeare’s gloomy poem, “Sonnet 29,” the speaker depressingly talks about his feelings of being an outcast through the use of hopeless diction and repetition, while portraying his insecurity around the people he envies. Through the use of a simile, the defeated tone shifts to a lighter tone when he is reminded of someone he loves, conveying that love is a powerful force that can bring someone who is having a hard time out of the dark.

The speaker begins by expressing his defeated feelings of being unfortunate.

He explains how he is “in disgrace with fortune” to emphasize his miserable condition, in which he is an “outcast” that has a cursed fate, revealing his hopeless emotions that has built up within himself. He calls his own weeping “bootless cries,” suggesting that he pities himself because not even “heaven” has the ears to hear him cry. The reasons behind his self-pity is revealed when he expresses that he wishes to be “rich in hope,” “featured,” and like someone with “friends possessed”.

His envy of those people who are hopeful, good-looking, and surrounded by friends demonstrates that he is extremely insecure about himself, who has none of those qualities that he desires.

Additionally, the repetition of “like him” serves to portray the speaker’s yearning to be like someone who is more fortunate than himself. The speaker feels so hopeless that even the things he “enjoy” makes him the least “contented,” suggesting that he feels lifeless and has no meaning to do the things he loves anymore due to his depressed state.

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The gloomy mood is shifted to a more light-hearted one as he suddenly thinks about someone who brings joy to his heart. He compares himself to a “lark at break of day arising” when he thinks of this person, contradicting his previous depressing thoughts. Although he was unable to reach god previously, he is suddenly able to sing at “heaven’s gate” due his happiness that rose from remembering their “sweet love”. His “disgrace with fortune” disappears as he is reminded of how “wealthy” he feels to have experienced a love that brings him so much joy. From being envious of just about everyone with fulfilling qualities to stating that he would not even want to trade places with the “kings,” Shakespeare emphasizes the complete 180 degree shift in mood.

The difference between the speaker’s tone in the first half compared to the second half of the poem accentuates the great influence that love has on people. Just by thinking of a lovely feeling, the speaker’s defeated and hopeless mood is brightened up and forgotten about, and his jealousy and insecurity vanishes into thin air when he realizes how fortunate he actually is. While he previously claimed to hate his state, he thinks about his love and wouldn’t want to be anyone else.

The speaker in Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 29” mirrors a few qualities of the character Bernard in Brave New World, since both characters are considered “outcasts” in their society. Bernard is insecure about his lack of height and his weak built that differs from those within the same class as him. He is often anxious about being rejected, therefore lacking self-confidence. Similarly, in Shakespearean’s character, the insecurity occurs from his misfortunate state, wishing that he could be like others who are attractive and popular. Both characters are upset with their own conditions and desire to be socially acceptable.

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The Use of Hopeless Diction and Repetition to Portray Insecurities in Sonnet 29. (2022, Dec 17). Retrieved from

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