Sonnet 43 William Shakespeare is well known for his famous plays and the series of sonnets he has written. Most people know about Shakespeare's fascination to write about love through conflict, but this particular sonnet explains how William Shakespeare portrays love a little differently than normal. Shakespeare‘s forty-third sonnet, titled “When Most I Wink Do My Eyes See Best”, is about dreams.
William Shakespeare has used dreams as a method to relay information in several of his works.
Using sleep and dreams to show a characters true feelings, to create a conflicting battle in ones head, or to help the audience image what the writer is intending, can be a powerful tool in writing. Jennifer Lewin, a journalist writer on Shakespeare’s works states, “Shakespeare realizes manifold possibilities for how dreams can reflect complex mental states, carefully demonstrating the deepest truth”. In Sonnet 43 Shakespeare uses dreams to portray what the speaker’s true feelings are.
Shakespeare wrote every sonnet with the same format: three quatrains and a couplet. This divides the reader attention into 4 main components. Each portion of the sonnet is built off of the quatrain before it. This building technique makes the sonnet become more intense as it progresses. The first quatrain of Sonnet 43 will set the mood for the entire sonnet.
When most I wink then do mine eyes best see, For all the day they view things unrespected, But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee, And darkly bright, are bright in dark directed.
The speaker of the sonnet states how one can see better with closed eyes then with eyes open. Jose Munoz creates the same dream effect as in Sonnet 43 in his own work “The sense of Watching Tony Sleep”. “The sonnet presents the situation of a lover wondering whether the beloved seen in dreams is rendered more present or more absent”. What Munoz is saying is, the speaker feels closer to the loved one in their dreams. At the same time the speaker is farther away from them, because they can only see them when they are asleep. (Munoz 2007)
The loved one brings the brightness into his dark closed eyes. “It is the cover of sleep that helps the watcher finally focus on the illumination provided by the loved one” (Munoz). The brightness in the dark of his dreams will bring up the next quatrain about the loved one’s image.
Then thou whose shadow shadows doth make bright, How would thy shadow's form, form happy show, To the clear day with thy much clearer light, When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so?
“ This romantic world is “darkly bright,” which is to say a realm where the visual is inverted, where light is darkness and darkness is light, where sleep gives one sharper perception(Munoz)”. Munoz describes how the speakers world is backwards from most other people. He prefers to physical be in darkness, so his loved one with be there and her beauty will shine.
The speaker states how he wants to see his loved one in the light, because of how beautiful her image is in the dark.
How would (I say) mine eyes be blessed made, By looking on thee in the living day, When in dead night their fair imperfect shade, Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay?
The speaker, in this quatrain, is not even phased by only being able to see his loved one in the darkness of his sleep. He would rather see her in the dark where there is no “imperfect shade”(Munoz 2007). When he sees her in his dreams her beauty creates light more beautiful than daylight. The idea that love is blind and nothing can come in between true love is shown here.
All my days are like empty nights, as I see them, till I see you again, And my nights are like bright days - when my dreams show your image to me.
This powerful couplet sums up the entire sonnet. The speaker lives in a reversed world compared to the meaningless things he sees throughout the harsh day. “ It is during the day that the speaker sees things that are unrespected. The idea of these objects that are seen and not seen, visually unrespected, reflection a world of visual phenomena that is not registered within the normative protocols of looking that obtain within the harshness of daylight(Munoz).”
William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 43 is about one who still loves someone who’s physical body has past on. Through one’s dreams he can see her at night, and her image is more beautiful than anything he sees during the day. Love lives longer than life.
1. When Most I Wink Do My Eyes See The Best Sonnet 43
15. BibliographyHamlet (Regained), http://www.hamletregained.com/sonnets/sonnet .J. Lewin, Your Action Are My Dreams, Shakespeare Studies, 185-186 (2003).J. Munos, The Sense of Watching Tony Sleep, South Atlanitc Quarterly 3, 547(2007).