In sonnet CXLIV by William Shakespeare, Shakespeare writes a sarcastic theme
about the struggle between good and evil and how he hopes good will prevail, but in
reality he knows evil will. To "two angels" on his shoulder, as the poem at first glance
conveys, could possibly be metaphors for his real-life loves; The man, and the Dark
Lady. Through the poem Shakespeare explains how his "worser evil" tries to sway his
"better angel" from his side, and he knows the male "angel" is good for him. He also
details how he knows the female spirit is bad for him. He finally says how he knows in
the end the lady evil will prevail over the male good.
Shakespeare has a lot of confusion in this sonnet. When starting this sonnet he has
a sure tone of his love for good and evil. However it could be assumed that these good
and bad symbolize his male and female lovers.
"The better angel is a man right fair." He
loves to be good, as the angel wants him to. "Two spirits do suggest me still." With this
he shows his dilemma with the choice between good and evil. Shakespeare knows the
situation does not look good, so he starts off by explaining it. Perhaps he does this to ease
his transition to evil. He has hypocrisy to what he says because he knows he should be
doing good, but doesn't want to because being bad feels so good too.
Shakespeare also goes on to explain the trials oh his bad spirit. "The worser spirit
a woman colour'd ill." When saying colour'd ill one could guess the bad angel is an
allusion to his lover the dark lady. He in a way admits that he is taking advantage of the
situation; he doesn't have to choose because the two spirits are fighting for him. "To win
me soon to hell my female evil." Both good and evil have gratified him that he cannot
choose so whoever "fires" the other out wins him. He chooses the cop-out. Whoever
wins, wins by default, not because he has a greater love for them.
Shakespeare adds a sarcastic twist to the end of the sonnet. He says he doesn't
know, "suspects I may yet not directly tell". But the sarcasm shows when he says, "yet
this shall I ne'er know, but live in doubt, till my bad angel fire my good one out. He says
he doesn't know but he does. This is a paradox because he says he is living in doubt, yet
he is absolutely sure of what the outcome will be. It is impossible to be in doubt and be
sure at the same time. This shows that maybe Shakespeare in is denial and doesn't want
to believe the truth. He knows the man is better for him and makes him feel good, but
being bad, the woman, makes him feel good too. He expresses this when he says, "I guess
one angel in another's hell."
In sonnet CXLIV Shakespeare express a struggle probably familiar to many
people today. However to explain this Shakespeare writes a very sarcastic poem to joke
about this choice he has to make. He knows what will win, but he wants to make it seem
like a very dramatic struggle between the two. This poem is also a metaphor for the inner
conflict Shakespeare faces in reality. He really does have "two loves of comfort and
despair". Shakespeare shows people can be manipulative, and it is easy to take advantage
of a good thing. This poem can relate to people who are even just friends, and not lovers,
could go through the same things and emotions. Time cannot change people or evitable
outcomes, nor it can it change people. People just try to change each other.