Explication Essay-A Reading of Shakespeare's "When, in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes"

Essay by mkmCollege, UndergraduateA, March 2006

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From the start, it is not difficult to figure out what the subject of the poem is about. However, unlike Dickinson's "There's a certain Slant of Light" which seemingly starts out upbeat and ends in an opposite fashion, this poem starts out dark and dreary and ends quite optimistically. Even though the poem starts out with a seemingly dark tone, it ends in an uplifting message. That message, in a nutshell, is simply count your blessings.

The first hint of the man's condition, besides the title of the poem, is in the second and third lines where he says "I all alone beweep my outcast state/ And I trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries." These two lines would lead one to initially think that the man portrayed in the poem is a less fortunate individual. The statement "bootless cries" implies that the man is very poor, homeless, or perhaps both.

In the third line where Shakespeare states "and I trouble deaf heaven" gives the image that the man's prayers have gone unanswered, and that the man could possibly be religious. This could be a bit misleading though, because in hard times a lot of people pray even though they may not be particularly religious.

In the next few lines, Shakespeare states "Wishing me like to one more rich in hope / Featured like him, like him with friends possessed," which paints a picture of a man standing outside a window looking in at a group of people. Perhaps these people are well off and are having a party or something of that nature. The man is looking in the window, wishing to be like the man who seems more financially secure and owns many possessions and has many friends. Shakespeare goes on to name things the well off man...