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            This paper gives an analysis and discussion of William Shakespeare’s ‘When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes.’ This is a poem which presents a number of themes and views from the point of the narrator. The paper will describe the poem line by line, and does this by describing the way in which it will occur in the mind of the readers. As it shall be noted in this essay, the use of poetry can be elemental in presenting a number of issues, ideas and views to the reader.

An Analysis of Shakespeare’s Poem When, in Disgrace with Fortune and Men’s Eyes

The poem by William Shakespeare presents a speaker who is in a state of emotion and extremely confused. From the very first line, the narrator is noted to be disgraced by fortune because he appears to be having some bad omen all along. He as well He also feels greatly disgraced by the eyes of men (William, 1975). The implication here is that the entire public somewhat looks at him in a matter that is unfavourable. While this could either be real or even imagined, in the second line the narrator moans of what he refers to as ‘outcast state’ meaning rejection in his own society.

Further down he continues to lament due to the fact that there is not even a single person who seems to hear his prayers and so he continues to feel extremely sorry for himself (Kallick, 1973). He also wishes that he was like another person much popular and handsome, and that way he would be much optimistic with his own life. In the third and fourth lines, the message is clearly an allusion of Biblical Job (William, 1975). He assumes a similar position whereby God appears not willing to listen to his cries. This idea, in which one results to cursing his fate, is constant with that of Job as he fell out of his Father’s fortune and favour.

While he desires someone’s scope and art, he ends up being more worried and upset since the talents he admire and opportunities possessed by other persons tend to make him confused other than jovial and happy. The speaker in this poem envies what the others appear to have. In the fifth to ninth lines, it noted that the narrator lacks what the others appear to possess and the reason he wishes he would be having similar possessions (Kallick, 1973). As it is noted in the seventh line, he still envies one man’s artistic possession and other opportunities possessed by other individuals (William, 1975).

In lines ten to twelve, there is the presentation of a lark simile. Here he presents the simile by giving a description of his very love he possesses for his well being and emotional state. As noted in this poem, we have this lark rising suddenly from what appears as a sullen earth right at day-break, and such has been used as an implication that daytimes tend to be happier in comparison with nights (William, 1975). Daybreaks have been given a compared to a new thought of someone loved. Farther down we see the lark singing beautiful hymns to the gates of the heavens, and it is at this particular moment when the soul of the poet becomes extremely invigorated. A new thought and idea of the Lord, who is very fair, appears to sing as a sign for rejuvenation and rebirth of new hope (William, 1975).

As the poet concludes, there is a declaration of joyous moment which is brought forth by this thought presented by the lord who is fair. This appears enough in convincing the narrator that he is pretty better even that the royalty. The conclusion of fair lord presents great hope which is incomparable with even the riches and wealth of kings. This can as well be used in reference to a greater kingdom or nation which is referred as ‘state’ in the poem. This poem ‘when in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes’ by Shakespeare presents hope not only for individuals but also for kingdoms and nations (Kallick, 1973). Love, which has been presented here, is such a powerful feeling or emotion that is capable of creating even the strongest linkage between individuals (William, 1975). Shakespeare thus expresses the feelings of sorrow that can be attributed to the very dark side of emotional love.


William, S. (1975). When, In Disgrace With Fortune And Men’s Eyes. New York: Penguin Books.

Kallick, M. (1973). A book of the Sonnet: Poems and Criticism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.



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