A Short Analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 4: ‘Unthrifty loveliness’

Interesting Literature

A critical reading of a Shakespeare sonnet

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 4 sees the Bard analysing the Fair Youth’s refusal to have children from a slightly different perspective, using the metaphor of economic and financial activity. In what follows, we analyse Sonnet 4 (‘Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend …’) in terms of its images of money and spending, as a way of elucidating its meaning.

Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend
Upon thy self thy beauty’s legacy?
Nature’s bequest gives nothing, but doth lend,
And being frank she lends to those are free:
Then, beauteous niggard, why dost thou abuse
The bounteous largess given thee to give?
Profitless usurer, why dost thou use
So great a sum of sums, yet canst not live?

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