Sonnets 20 and 57
As @the-7-percent-solution, @tjlcisthenewsexy, @impatient14and @teaandforeshadowing have pointed out in this post, 20 minutes has been mentioned enough times within the show that it holds a degree of significance.
This also got me thinking. It’s not the first time numbers have been important on this show. The number 57 (the number of times Irene Adler texted Sherlock
… John your jealousy is showing) could be correlated to Sonnet 57 as written by Shakespeare. In said sonnet, Shakespeare expresses his love to a young man and how he fears that his lust for the man may jeopardize their relationship has become a reality.
Initially, I saw this sonnet as Sherlock’s feelings towards John but the more I read over it, it made more sense if they were John’s feelings towards Sherlock. Let me explain.
Being your slave, what should I do but tend
Upon the hours and times of your desire?
I have no precious time at all to spend,
Nor services to do, till you require.
John is Sherlock’s roommate, best friend and blogger. They spend nearly all their time together. Even during their first encounter, John is at Sherlock’s call and beacon. Sherlock texts him to go to Baker Street and he does, despite Mycroft’s warning. He’s willingly to sacrifice himself to save Sherlock from Moriarty. He cancels a date to tend to Sherlock after he’s drugged by Irene. He helps Sherlock get into the military base at Baskerville. Need I go on?
Nor dare I chide the world-without-end hour
Whilst I, my sovereign, watch the clock for you,
Nor think the bitterness of absence sour
When you have bid your servant once adieu;
I think this portion relates to John’s feelings after Sherlock “dies” at the end of The Reichenbach Fall. John probably sits alone in 221B as he watches the time go by, unable to get angry for what Sherlock did. He wants to be angry at Sherlock but a part of him can’t. He also wants to be bitter about Sherlock abandoning him with only a goodbye but again, he probably can’t bring himself to. Sherlock is his best friend. I don’t think anyone would be able to bring themselves to hold resentment towards their best friend after their death.
Nor dare I question with my jealous thought
Where you may be, or your affairs suppose,
But, like a sad slave, stay and think of nought
Save, where you are how happy you make those.
The reason John is so angry after Sherlock comes back during The Empty Hearse is that he thinks that Sherlock faked his death to get away from him. To go be with Irene Adler. He clearly was jealous of Irene’s constant flirting with Sherlock. And his anger stemmed from being left behind by Sherlock yet he still harbors feelings for the man.
So true a fool is love that in your will,
Though you do any thing, he thinks no ill.
And at the end of the day, like the fool that he is, John Watson still and will always love Sherlock for the man that he is and will never think ill of him.
Now what does Sonnet 57 have anything to do with this post? Well, in relation to the number 20 in reference to 20 minutes, I read over Sonnet 20 which Shakespeare also wrote to a male lover. While Sonnet 57 is John’s feelings for Sherlock, I believe Sonnet 20 is Sherlock’s feelings for John. Again, let me explain.
A woman’s face with Nature’s own hand painted
Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion;
This is Sherlock’s initial feelings for John. Someone who has captured his interest as well as his feelings.
A woman’s gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change, as is false women’s fashion;
John is a kind man and Sherlock sees that. In Season 3 and 4, we see that John doesn’t like sudden change. I guess, in the very first episode we can see that John is having a hard time adjusting as his life suddenly shifted from the war to civilian life.
An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;
John Watson has beautiful eyes but they’re also eyes which look at Sherlock without the judgement that may others have looked at Sherlock with. The sincerity “gilding the object whereupon it gazeth” with the object being Sherlock.
A man in hue, all hues in his controlling,
Much steals men’s eyes and women’s souls amazeth.
Sherlock sees John as a man who is attractive to both men and women. Alluding to John’s bisexuality????
And for a woman wert thou first created;
Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated,
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
But since she prick’d thee out for women’s pleasure,
Mine be thy love and thy love’s use their treasure.
These last few lines may refer to Sherlock despising a world where it’s still not widely accepted to be homosexual as “Nature” has given him someone (a.k.a John Watson) who cares for Sherlock for who he is but made him male so Sherlock may not ever be allowed to be with him. John Watson is male and thus must be with a woman (“But since she prick’d thee out for women’s pleasure”). However, Sherlock doesn’t care for what gender John Watson is. Sherlock just wants John Watson to love him the way he has always loved John and will always love.