Opposition in the Language of Representation and Undecidability of Pronouns in William Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Parisa Hamidizadeh, Yazdan Mahmoudi


The purpose of this study is to consider the undecidability of pronouns in William Shakespeare’s sonnet sequence. In sonnet 53 of Shakespeare’s sonnet sequence it is not clear that whether the beloved is male or female, because the beloved has affinity to both men and women: “And you, but one, can every shadow lend/Describe Adonis, and the counterfeit/Is poorly imitated after you/On Helen's cheek all art of beauty set” (53. 4-7). In fact, in sonnet 53 the beloved has been likened both to Adonis who is a male character and to Helen that is female. Therefore, the speaker of sonnets uses pronouns in a very confusing manner that causes confusion for the reader in differentiating between male and female pronouns, because in some sonnets a reversal takes place in the reference point of the pronouns. Even in some of these sonnets it is never clear whether the pronoun “he” refers to a male subject or object, or whether the pronoun “she” is referring to male object. Important examples of this claim are sonnets 20 and 127. In sonnet 20, for example, the speaker tells the addressee that “A woman's face with nature's own hand painted/Hast thou, the master mistress of my passion/A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted/With shifting change, as is false women's fashion” (20.1-4). 


Shakespeare; undecidability; sonnet; pronoun; opposition.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.alls.v.8n.6p.88


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