William had black hair and had dun-colored skin [4].

 William Shakespeare was a
poet that has been acknowledged as one of the greatest play writers and
dramatist of all times. He had a gift to transpire heartaches, love, and
outrage, throughout all his literary creations. This gift protruded all through
his many plays and sonnets that he ended up leaving as a part of his legacy.
“Shakespeare wrote plays that capture the complete range of human emotion
and conflict.” 1.  In my eyes,
what allows Shakespeare to have become so incomparable, was his creative
capability of simultaneously using the correct choice of word, tone, and
structure, to allow one sonnet, to have so many different interpretations. In
Sonnet 138, “When my love swears that she is made of truth”,
Shakespeare once again crafted different levels of interpretations to portray
his opinion once more on love. Edward Snow, an American poet, and translator,
who was the winner of the 1985 Harold Morton London Translation Award, as well
as the recipient of an Academy of Arts and Letters Award for the body of his
Rilke translations, calls the sonnet “a touchstone for Shakespeare’s
dramatic imagination” 2. Many think that the sonnet is a continuance of
the topic Shakespeare started to talk about back in Sonnet 127, which was about
“The Dark Lady” 3. The Dark Lady, or also known as his mistress,
was so called this, because of what is said in earlier poems in which it was
made clear that she had black hair and had dun-colored skin 4. 

            One would argue that honesty and truthfulness, is the
fundamental components of a relationship. Nevertheless, throughout Sonnet 138,
Shakespeare attempted to portray that a relationship without deception was
impossible, and when in love, a lie does not have the same consequence if the
intention of it, was to benefit the lovers. The goal was to investigate how
Shakespeare disputed this opinion once more about love, through the sonnet:
When my love swears that she is made of truth. This would be done by exploring
the mechanism of how Shakespeare uses deception, untruthfulness, and other
literary elements to materialize his opinion that perfect love could still have
these characteristics embedded throughout it and subsequently how love can
exist to only masks our faults.

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             Previously stated, “Sonnet 138”,
depicts the relationship of a couple who many people consider to be of the
author and his mistress– the dark lady, which was not Shakespeare’s wife, Anne
Hathaway. This is because women that were described through the poem diverges
from the normal of a Petrarchan women, blonde hair and red cheeks, which were
fashionable in that day and age 5. But as Shakespeare unraveled the foulness
of his mistress, it also allowed the foulness of himself to be brought out.

            “When my love
sweares that she is made of truth, I do believe her though I know she
lyes” 2. The tone that is established at the beginning of the sonnet is one
of acceptance and gentility. Edward Snow believes that, “the mistress
swears that she is made of truth, not that she is “true” or
“telling the truth”; and the speaker believes her, not her vows or
her lies…if she is made of truth, then even her lies must be true or manifest
her truth; such lies, properly understood, may elicit belief rather than
undermine it.”. Nevertheless, Edward argues that he also believes that
Shakespeare is trying to assert his knowledge of the way love works, by
proclaiming that his mistress lies are done in an honest way. This is because
it is thought that Shakespeare believed since the lies are being told for a
good cause, and though she lies to him and he to her, they both have good
intentions at heart for lying. Therefore, the lie is made as truth to them, and
this exemplifies that they loved each other enough to keep the truth from
hurting their love. 

5-8: Thus
vainly thinking that she thinks me young,

Although she knows
my days are past the best,

Simply I credit
her false-speaking tongue:

On both sides
thus is simple truth suppressed 2

             Furthermore, in lines 5 and 6, Shakespeare
presents a mind of an aging man and his rationalization for deceit, in an
affair with a younger woman. Shakespeare allowed us to get a glimpse of a mind
of a man of later age and what he would be thinking, as he may be suffering
from what is known as a midlife crisis. Through the use of words like,
“thus vainly” and “although she knows”, I believe that the
speaker tries to illustrate the confirmation that he is aware of his age and
how he is aware that his mistress is consequently conscious of that also. The
word vain is the perfect word choice to not only describe how Shakespeare is
feeling about the whole situation but also how he is feeling about himself. To
be vain according to the dictionary is when a person is feeling empty and
lacking value or even too proud of oneself 6. Thus, this consistent with the
attitudes Shakespeare is choosing to present in these two stanzas. In stanza 5,
he is saying he’s foolish to be pretending to think that his mistress doesn’t
know his real age. Although he knows his deception is meaningless since he
says, “she knows my days are past the best”, therefore specifying
that she knows that his best days are behind him.  But because he is vain, or in other words
feeling empty, he gives her credit for the untruth she tells him, by cause that
he is also not being truthful with her – lines 7 and 8. Additionally, line 7
shows that line 8, is indeed truthful by suggesting that, ” we are both
liar, she is pretending faithfulness and I in pretending youth”,  which nevertheless emphasizes the view
Shakespeare is trying to enlighten the reader with, which is that when a lie is
mutual and the intention is relatable, this makes the lie okay in a
relationship 7.

9–15:  But wherefore says she not she is unjust?

And wherefore
say not I that I am old?

O, love’s best
habit is in seeming trust,

And age in love
loves not to have years told:

Therefore I lie
with her and she with me,

            A conception that
was common of Shakespeare was to entail hidden meanings, through complex
languages in his sonnets and plays. This is because Shakespeare is known for
his ability to create layers of understanding and interpretations. From stanza
9, all through the ending of the poem, Shakespeare was trying to convey that
mutual deceit is comprehensible because of love. The affair that Shakespeare
was experiencing with this mistress presents itself as a love affair to fulfill
a need of reassurance in himself, which is that he is still worthy to be
loved– despite his age. Therefore, this is where a tone shift happens and we
see that emotionally detached Shakespeare finds himself questioning his
mistress why she doesn’t just tell him that she has been unjust, which can also
be interpreted as “unfaithful”, in stanza 9. Then, with this, he then
found himself questioning his own actions onto why he didn’t just admit that he
is old (stanza 10). But nevertheless, he prefers simply to ignore her lying and
adultery and believe that “loves best habits is in seeming trust”. In
other words, loves best disguise is the pretense of truth. Pretense here
meaning an attempt to make something that is not the case appear true 2.

 Nevertheless, Shakespeare’s
proclamation of a different way to love was made visible through the many
literary elements he adopted to compose this sonnet. Sonnet 138, is written in
iambic pentameter style and in the first-person voice. Additionally, the sonnet
is composed of fourteen lines, three quatrains, and one couplet. The first two
quatrains would be telling of the dishonesty that the couple shared, while the
third quatrain was where a shift of tone began to happen. Shakespeare was known
to write in a type of rhythm throughout many his works which he usually
composed of ten syllables in each line that alternates unstressed and stressed
syllables. Therefore, he used irony by using the word lie and lye throughout
the sonnet to convey that the reason they lied to one another was the only
reason they were lying with each other, in a sexual manner. This would then be
an indication that the relationship they held would eventually fall apart
without lies. Thus, since Shakespeare would reverse the order and meaning of
words at times to make his works even more unique, by using lie and lye in this
poem he made this craft visible.

             It can be deduced that Sonnet 138, brings
realignment of values by the sustainment and double meaning of the word
“lyes”.  I believe that
Shakespeare through this sonnet, allowed the reader to take in perspective his
opinion that love exists today to only masks our faults and consequently, and
that these faults are what manifests in our relationships as lies.
Nevertheless, he further is implicating that those principles of lies, defines
love in humanity, which can relate back to the original sin, in which even the
first two humans that were on earth lied before God. So who are we to not fall
into this pattern, for the best of our benefits. The figurative languages
Shakespeare possess in this sonnet allows us to further grasp the
interpretations behind each stanza. This interpretation is grasped by the
extended metaphors and symbolism he uses to further express his reflective
tone. For example, Shakespeare encompassed metaphor and symbolism on lines 3-4
by using the metaphor “untutored youth”, to exemplify that he
believes that his mistress believes him to be a child and without knowledge. He
then extended to auditory imagery on line 1, ” when my love swears”, for
we know that love does not talk 1. Thus, it can be concluded that the
inversion of what society believes to be valuable in a relationship, which is
honesty, is futile and insubstantial to Shakespeare when we consider our wants
and needs.