Connotation differs from denotation in that the former is related to the subjective and cultural experiences of individuals. For example, when a person uses the word, “father,” it will not be value free. A father may connote various other thoughts and feelings such as kindness, severity, love, or abuse. Therefore, in interpreting a passage, it will be important to ask what words connote in that particular context. Also it will be important to realize that words can connote very different notions with a change in time and place. For example, slavery has a very different connotation in Paul’s day than in North America. That Paul could boast of his slavery shows that the connotation behind the word was not entirely negative. In the ancient world, slavery could be a way up the social ladder as well as a way to gain great power. Moreover, unlike slavery in America, slavery in the Greco-Roman world was not motivated by race.
Look at how Shakespeare uses the word lies in the line, "I do believe her, though I know she lies." Here, the word lies has negative connotations. Not only is the speaker's beloved dishonest, she is also unfaithful, as she lies down with other men. This can be derived from the sonnet's first line "When my love swears that she is made of truth," wherein the speaker's love is claiming to be faithful but he doesn't believe her. The word vainly also has negative connotations in the line "Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young." The poet's mistress is proud of her own maturity but thinks the speaker as immature, while he tries unsuccessfully to make her think otherwise.
Denotation refers to the literal meaning of a word, while connotation refers to the additional meanings and moods one associates with it. Often, figures of speech play on metaphors. For example, the phrase "her eyes were like the sea..." might play on the sea's connotation of being beautiful, deep, blue, or mysterious. Words can share denotations yet have different connotations. Consider adjectives like 'hyper' and 'spirited' or 'curious' and 'nosy'. Both words in each pair have essentially the same denotation, but vary in connotation. Normally, 'curious' and 'spirited' are positive connotations, while 'hyper' and 'nosy' are seen as having negative ones.