Sonnet 16 Analysis

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Project in English08

World Literature


by: William Shakespeare

Submitted to:

Mrs. Mila L. Richwine

Submitted by:

Cawis, Richard Lee T.

De Vera, Mae Anne N.

Duclayan, Lyka R.

Egar Flory May F.

Galvez, Robert O.

Ibo, John Paul V.

Panes, Gerald O.


[pic]UT wherefore do not you a mightier way 

Make war upon this bloody tyrant, Time? 

And fortify yourself in your decay 

With means more blessèd than my barren rime? 

Now stand you on the top of happy hours, 

And many maiden gardens, yet unset, 

With virtuous wish would bear your living flowers, 

Much liker than your painted counterfeit: 

So should the lines of life that life repair 

Which this time's pencil or my pupil pen, 

Neither in inward worth nor outward fair 

Can make you live yourself in eyes of men.

To give away yourself keeps yourself still, 

And you must live, drawn by your own sweet skill

Analysis of Shakespeare's Sonnet 18

Sonnet 18 is part of a large group of sonnets that Shakespeare wrote addressing a man of great beauty. Shakespeare, in sonnet 18, uses descriptions of nature, and the power and images that they imply, and directly compares them to the power the young man possesses in his youth, vigor, and promise. Shakespeare then finds that the beauty and power of nature do not compare to the beauty and power of the young man. He uses his poem as a way to provide the youth with an eternal existence and subsequently makes it evident that Shakespeare sees the young man as more than a human, he sees him as a god.

In the first quatrain Shakespeare begins his comparison between the young man and nature by comparing the young man to a summer’s day. The image suggests illumination, brilliance, light, life, and all things associated with the sun as the source of all these things. Shakespeare feels the same way about the young man; he is in his prime, in his glory, full of life and beautiful. He is idealized by Shakespeare in this description. It is interesting to note that the first line is in the form of a question. Shakespeare at this point, realizes that he’s made a mistake in his comparison. “Thou art more lovely and more temperate.” (Line 2) He knows that his language and comparison are inadequate in trying to express the way he feels. He knows that comparing the youth to a summer’s day does not do justice to the feelings he has for him. The youth is more perfect than the beauty of a summer’s day. The man is more temperate--- he is gentler, more constant, and more controlled. He is safely more reliant than a summer’s day. Shakespeare questions the idea of the man being as gorgeous as a summer’s day and then ups the ante by saying the youth is more impressive. This is a great compliment and establishes that the feelings that Shakespeare has for the young man far transcend those of friendship or admiration. His feelings for the youth are that of love.

The following lines offer explanations of why the comparison to a summer’s day is not good enough. Shakespeare begins to show all of summer’s imperfections, beginning with the example that rough winds come in May and disturb the darling flowers. May is a time in the year when the weather starts to warm up and flowers are in full bloom--- the very beginning of summer. Shakespeare again uses a force of nature when he speaks of the wind. The image suggested is that of the hot wind of May coming and blowing petals off of the beautiful flowers. In contrast, the wind may be a metaphor for problems and obstacles in life and how the young man is not affected by opposition--- that he cannot be shaken. “Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May...” (3) The summer may have imperfections but the youth, by Shakespeare’s belief, does not. This seems contradictory, as the fact is that the youth is a human and all human beings are imperfect. Shakespeare is happily blinded by his love. In his eyes, the youth can...
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