Sonnet: Shakespeare's View on Life and Death

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"To be or not to be that is the question." This line was from one of Shakespeare's more famous plays, Hamlet. Although many people don't know this, Shakespeare was much more than just a playwright. He was also an artist of words in the era of language known as sonnet poetry. Sonnet poetry divides into three quatrains (four-line groupings) and a final couplet, rhyming abab cdcd efef gg. The structure of the English sonnet usually follows the Petrarchan, or explores variations on a theme in the first three quatrains and concludes with an epigrammatic couplet. In sonnet sequences, or cycles, a series of sonnets are linked by a common theme. Within Shakespeare's Sonnet sixty, Shakespeare explains the importance of life and how precious time is to man by using imagery that relate to time.

In the first four lines of the sonnet, Shakespeare is explaining how life is always changing and also how the life of man is short, just as the wave of the seas makes it's way toward the shore. In lines number two and three of the sonnet, Shakespeare is telling the reader that life goes from generation to generation; not necessarily as exactly as the last life but similar. Just as man produce offspring to carry their name from generation to generation and like the waves, "each changing place with which goes before," their offspring look similar but not identical to the "master mold" from which they came from. In line four of the sonnet, Shakespeare slightly changes directions and tone to explain that life has its many hardships and that in life, there is always going to be some source of discomfort as shown "…sequent toil all forwards do contend." Toil refers to trouble or hardship and the phrase all forwards do contend refers to the future ahead for man. Then suddenly again, Shakespeare changes the mood again in sonnet line five through eight.

Within these lines of the sonnet, Shakespeare is attempts to tell the reader that from birth to the time of full maturity in adulthood,...
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