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The Intentional Fallacy and Shakespeare’s Sonnets

1. Introduction

In this essay, I will be discussing the Intentional Fallacy and how it can be applied to Shakespeare’s Sonnets. The Intentional Fallacy is the idea that the author’s intention is the only thing that matters when interpreting a work of art. This Fallacy lies in assuming that it is Shakespeare speaking in the poems and that he is disclosing the darkest secrets of his life in the sonnets. I will be using close readings of specific sonnets to argue that the reader should not rely on the author’s intention when interpreting the poems.

2. The Intentional Fallacy

The Intentional Fallacy was first introduced by W.K. Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley in their 1946 essay “The Intentional Fallacy”. In this essay, they argue that the author’s intention is irrelevant to the interpretation of a work of art. They state that “the design or intention of the author is neither available nor desirable as a standard for judging the success of a work of literary art” (Wimsatt and Beardsley 446). The Intentional Fallacy lies in assuming that it is Shakespeare speaking in the poems and that he is disclosing the darkest secrets of his life in the sonnets.

Shakespeare’s Sonnets are some of the most popular and well-known poems in the English language. They have been interpreted in many different ways and there is no one correct interpretation. The Sonnets are often read as autobiographical poems, with scholars trying to find out what Shakespeare was really like as a person. However, we cannot know for sure what Shakespeare’s intentions were when he wrote the Sonnets. We can only infer from the clues he gives us in the text.

3. Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Sonnet 116 is one of Shakespeare’s best-known love poems. It begins with the famous line “Let me not to the marriage of true minds” (Shakespeare 1). In this sonnet, Shakespeare is trying to define love and what it means to be truly in love. He argues that love is not something that can be changed or manipulated, but it is an immutable force. This sonnet has often been interpreted as Shakespeare’s definition of true love, but it could also be read as a definition of friendship. It is up to the reader to decide which interpretation is more accurate.

Sonnet 129 is another well-known sonnet, often referred to as “the dark lady” sonnet because it deals with themes of lust and infidelity. In this sonnet, Shakespeare compares love to a disease, calling it “a fever” (Shakespeare 9). He talks about how love makes him do things he would not normally do, such as lie, cheat, and steal. This sonnet has often been interpreted as a confession of Shakespeare’s infidelity, but it could also be read as a warning about the dangers of love. Again, it is up to the reader to decide which interpretation is more accurate.

4. Conclusion

In conclusion, I would like to say that we should be careful not to fall into the Intentional Fallacy when interpreting works of art. We cannot know for sure what an author’s intention was, so we should not assume that we do. The meaning of a work of art lies in

FAQ

The intentional fallacy is the belief that an author's intention can be determined from their work.

The intentional fallacy can be applied to Shakespeare's sonnets by looking at what the author was trying to convey through their work.

Some of the possible implications of applying the intentional fallacy to Shakespeare's sonnets include understanding the author's intended meaning and getting a better understanding of the work as a whole.

There are other ways in which we can interpret Shakespeare's sonnets, such as looking at them from a literary perspective or considering how they would be received by a modern audience.

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