The Mirror and the Lover’s ‘I’ in Shakespeare’s Sonnets: A Poet’s Individuation Process

Charis Charalampous


From the dark lady's function as the fair young man's mirror-image and vice versa, a complicated dialectics emerges concerning the influence the one exerts upon the other and both of them together on the speaker.
The poet fused the transitive and self-reflective functions of the mirror into the single image of the dark lady, which although failed to incite self-awareness in the fair young man and mend his flaws, it nevertheless incited individuated self-knowledge in the speaker himself, operating as a lasting metaphor not merely for the process of individuation through the mirror, but also for the emergence of a radically modern selfhood in which the self is an essentially bi-subjective being. Individuation in Shakespeare's sonnets is not achieved solely through a process whereby the beholder recognises a self in the mirror who has an individual, subjective point of view towards socially constructed moral/ethical exempla, but most tantalizingly through a process whereby this individualised self is recognised by the beholder to be bisected and perjured.


Shakespeare, Sonnets, Mirror, Subjectivity, Individuation

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