Again with the popular wisdom about the evilness of Annie Hathaway. Alas, poor Annie. Stuck home with the kids, and four hundred years of masculine condemnation for being a bad wife.
That's okay, honey. We girls understand.
volterraread asked, here--
I don't suppose there's the remotest chance that the Dark Lady is Anne H.? (not that I've read the sonnets in an age, aside from what you've posted!)
And what I wrote got too long for the comment field. Um. So here it is.
As an aside, the author of the Guardian article doesn't mention the other characters who wander through the Sonnets--the Rival Poet, for example, who could be any number of people (Marlowe? Jonson? Chapman? Nashe?) or a combination of several of them.
I'm breaking with consensus when I say that I rather think that the person to whom the first seventeen sonnets are addressed (The Young Man Of Good Fortune In Want Of A Wife, if you will... er... if you like...) is NOT the Fair Young Man of the later sonnets. The first seventeen, frankly, read to me like commissioned work, a series of articulate arguments to a stranger.
Eighteen and up, though.... *whew* (mops brow.)
Annie does make one appearance in the sonnets, other than as the Wronged Wife, offstage and only mentioned in passing as the source of guilt.
Those lips that Love's own hand did make,
Breathed forth the sound that said 'I hate',
To me that languished for her sake:
But when she saw my woeful state,
Straight in her heart did mercy come,
Chiding that tongue that ever sweet
Was used in giving gentle doom;
And taught it thus anew to greet;
'I hate' she altered with an end,
That followed it as gentle day,
Doth follow night, who like a fiend
From heaven to hell is flown away.
'I hate', from hate away she threw,
And saved my life, saying 'not you'.
He's punning on his wife's maiden name, there. "Hate away," "Hathaway"
This sonnet is largely ignored, and there's a cottage industry in discrediting it (It's juvenilia, it's not really Will, it can't be a love poem he wrote when he was 18 because it relies on Astrophel and Stella, which wasn't published yet--)
However, comma, the sonnets were published in Shakespeare's lifetime; the idea that it was the work of someone else somehow interpolated doesn't hold water. He bloody well put it in there, and when he did, he put it at the end of the sequence, rather than the beginning.
I suspect because it's a tender love poem that doesn't fit that manufactured idea of Anne Hathaway as the sneaky older woman who entrapped a naive young man into marriage through the time-honored expedient of getting herself knocked up. (The eldest daughter was born a bit close to the marriage, as they say, and the marriage was a bit, er, hasty. And there's the issue of the, er, will, in which she's notoriously given the second-best bed and that's taken of evidence as a slam, a cruel reminder of Will's philandering... which ignores the fact that there was such a thing as a widow's portion, and more, that the will assigns everything not otherwise enumerated to elder daughter Susanna and her husband... who apparently, if the burial records are anything to go on, took very good care of Annie. Anyway. And dude, that bed could be an heirloom, it could be the marriage bed, it could be one inherited from Anne's family... I think the boys historically have just wanted Will to have a lousy marriage so they can have him to themselves. But. Hobby Horse. I digress. *Stuffs feminist diatribe back in box*)
Anyway, 18 was very early for an Elizabethan man to marry. Late twenties was far more common.
The superficial context of this sonnet is pretty obvious--that Will courted her, and she put him off as graciously as possible for rather some time, and he eventually won her. Chiding that tongue that ever sweet / Was used in giving gentle doom;
However, there are those who prefer their Will to have been fleeing an abusive marriage while he was philandering his way around London, and so they make Annie a bit of a termagant and a predator.
What interests me about this sonnet in particular, however, is that we can see its relevance to a real-life situation. Which, um, kind of supports the idea that the sonnets are a True Life Story, OMG.
And I think there's another interpretation, which I haven't seen elsewhere, so may be unique to me. And which does dispense with most of the objections.
I think that this sonnet, especially given its placement near the end of the sequence, can be read as the acknowledgment of a reconciliation. He did go back to her at the end of his life, and I dunno about you, but if my husband came home to admit he'd been catting around with various young men and women in London, I might be moved to swear I hated him, too. And then, under the right circumstances, I might also be moved to take it back.
And if I were a grateful husband, I might under those circumstances be moved to make a note of that forgiveness. Which might include something to the effect of reworking an old poem into a new form.
This poem stands out among the others. The meter is different. It's intentionally made to stand out, and not stuck at the beginning as one might expect of a poem that doesn't really belong in the cycle, but is getting published there anyway because writers are greedy and we want all our words read, even the early ones. (Which is my theory on the first 17, anyway.)
There's all this numerology stuff associated with the Sonnets, too, which I don't even pretend to understand. But, looking at this as a writer rather than a critic, this poem is serving a structural purpose in the narrative. And I think it's foolish to pretend it's not doing that.
|[He is still going in and out.|