Term of Award
Master of Arts in English (M.A.)
Document Type and Release Option
Thesis (open access)
Copyright Statement / License for Reuse
Digital Commons@Georgia Southern License
Department of Literature and Philosophy
Committee Member 1
Candy BK Schille
Committee Member 2
Shakespeare, in his sonnets, employs alchemical references in the sonnets that ultimately fail, in order to show how fruitless it is to pursue immortality. The poet urges the fair friend, who himself is like the self-consuming ouroboros, to father a child that will continue his legacy and allow the fair friend to live on via the child. Language associated with the child is alchemical, referencing distillation, vials, flasks, and the renewing power of the philosopher’s stone. The dark lady, the opposite of the fair friend in every way, can be explained as fulfilling alchemy’s union of opposites needed for a philosopher’s stone to be created. However, when the fabled medicinal baths cannot cure the poet of the ill love he has contracted from the dark lady, it becomes clear that, just as there is no philosopher’s stone, there is no immortality.
Moody, Brandi L., "Not (Just) Donne: Alchemical Transmutation as Immortality in Shakespeare’s Sonnets" (2015). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1315.
Research Data and Supplementary Material