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Sonnet 18 - Essay

By mousie1987 Sep 10, 2011 1549 Words
SONNET 18 William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 is one of one hundred fifty four poems of fourteen lines written in Iambic Pentameter. These sonnets exclusively employ the rhyme scheme, which has come to be called the Shakespearean Sonnet. The sonnets are composed of an octet and sestet and typically progress through three quatrains to a concluding couplet. It also contains figurative language and different poetic devices used to create unique effects in his sonnets. Shakespeare’s sonnets consist of words constructed in a certain manner or form, thoughts, emotion and poetic devices. One way to interpret the sonnet is to think of “thee” that Shakespeare is referring to as a person. Following that line of thought the sonnet could read that Shakespeare is in love with someone who is consistently beautiful. He tries to compare this person to summer but summer is not as beautiful or constant. This person in Shakespeare’s eyes will never grow old and ugly and not even Death can say that his person’s end is near. In line 1, he starts the poem with a question. He asks if he should compare the person to a summer’s day but ends up not doing so realizing that the person is superior. In the following 7 lines of this sonnet, he begins to show the differences between the person and a summer’s day. He explains that the person’s characteristics is moderate and comfortable and has favorable qualities in line 2. “Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,” (line 3) means that the rough winds of the summer can destroy the buds of the flowers and his particular person has no such trait. In the forth line of the sonnet, Shakespeare justifies how summer is too short and how his lover’s beauty does not end like this specific season does. In the next two lines, lines 5 and 6, the superb poet interpret the summer’s temperature. He explains how the summer can be extremely hot and uncomfortable. He also describes how the sun can be dulled due to the covering of clouds. It can obscure or shadow the earth, unlike the shining beauty of his lover. Although Sonnet 18 is an extended metaphor, line 7 has a literal meaning that explains itself: “And every fair from fair sometime declines,” With fair meaning beautiful, he is saying that everything that is beautiful must come to an end and that all beauty fades except the one of his lover. The next line is an example of the reasons why beauty fades. Chance makes beauty fade by something dreadful happening. He says that natures changing course untrimmed meaning that the seasons changing direction, path or time can deteriorate beauty. In line 8, the turning point of the sonnet, Shakespeare specifies that something is changing by using the simple word But. He goes on to explain that the person’s beauty will not die. He itemizes eternal to mean that the person’s charm will live forever. You are not going to lose possession of that beauty that you own, Shakespeare explains in line 10. In the eleventh line of the sonnet, he says that Death won’t be able to brag that he has possession of the persons beauty. In other words, the beloved will never die. At the end of the sonnet, he writes about “eternal lines” which symbolizes that the beloved’s beauty will grow in this poem forever. In the last two lines of this poem, lines 13 and 14, the poet means that as long as people read this poem, that the beloved’s beauty will live. He also describes how the person will live in the spirit and beauty of the poem. It could also represent the poem itself, which keeps the person beautiful forever. This sonnet has a basic form or structure. In this sonnet there are fourteen lines divided into two clear parts, an opening octet which has 8 lines and a closing sestet which has 6 lines with a fixed rhyme scheme: ababcdcdefefgg. The octave presents the narrative, states the proposition or raises a question. The sestet drives home the narrative by making an abstract comment, applies the proposition, or solves the problem. In Sonnet 18 the octave says that the beloved is better than a summers day. It develops the idea of this sonnet. The sestet then explains why the beloved is better than a summer’s day. The sestet also states that the lover will live forever. Instead of the octave and sestet divisions, this sonnet characteristically embodies four divisions. Three quatrains of four lines each with a rhyme scheme of its own, and a rhymed couplet. In this case, the rhyme scheme of the quatrains is: abab cdcd efef gg. The couplet at the end is usually a commentary on the foregoing. Some types of poetic devices that are frequently used in this love poem are meter, rhyme, assonance, consonance, repetition, end & internal rhyme and alliteration. Meter is a sort of up down bouncy ball type of sound that goes along with the line of poetry. It has accents and unaccented syllables. Alliteration works by repeating one or more letters at the beginning of a word throughout a line. Some examples of alliteration (shown in italics in the sonnet above) in this sonnet is spread out in all fourteen lines. Words like shall summers, thee to, thou temperate, art and, more more, do darling, and all a, summers short, sometime shines, too the, hot heaven, fair from fair, summer shall and time thou are all examples of alliteration. Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds. Examples of assonance (shown in bold in the sonnet above) are spread throughout sonnet 18. Words such as compare summers, rough buds, sometime declines, in his, thou grow’st, breathe see and lives his gives are all assonance. Consonance, which means that the final consonants agree, is also used in this specific sonnet. Some consonance examples (shown underlined in the sonnet above) are compare more, winds buds, is his, fair fair, eternal shall, that ow’st, when in, men can, and lives this this are some good examples of consonance. We also have end rhyme used in this Shakespearean sonnet such as day may, temperate date, shines declines, dimmed untrimmed, fade shade, ow’st grow’st, and see thee (shown in a script font in the sonnet above). Internal rhymes are also used such as: Lines 1 and 2, thee and lovely. We also have lines 3 and 4, do and too. Another example of an internal rhyme is heaven and complexion and is his from lines 5 and 6. Repetition is very common in this sonnet. In line 2 we have more and more, in lines 4 and 5 he also shows too and too. In lines 6 and 7 and and & fair fair. Towards the end of the sonnet, lines 10,11 and 12 show nor nor and thou thou. The rhymed couplet has three repetitions which are so long, so long, can, can and this, this. Although William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 is an extended metaphor, there are other examples of figurative language throughout the poem. In this sonnet, we have figurative language such as metaphor, conceit, personification, antithesis, synecdoche or they just remain self explanatory (literal). The conceit, controlling idea, of this poem is in line one when Thee is being compared to a summer’s day, which is also a metaphor. Antithesis is shown in line 14 when Shakespeare says “So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.” This is the balancing of contrasting terms. An example of synecdoche is in line 12 when “lines” is referred to as the whole poem. Examples of personification are seen in lines 3, 4, 5, 6, 11 and 14. In the third line, Shakespeare says “darling buds” giving human attributes to a flower. In line 4, summer is given a life like quality to rent or to lease. The sun in line 5 is referred to as the eye of heaven. The sun is being compared to a face having a gold complexion in line 6. In line 11 Death is being compared to a braggart giving Death a human quality. In the last line of this sonnet, the poem itself is being compared to a living thing. Although all the lines just mentioned are examples of personification, they are all metaphors as well. Lines 7 and 13 have both literal meanings. These two lines are self-explanatory and mean what they say. The remaining lines 2, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 12 and 13 are all metaphors because throughout those lines, the beloved’s beauty is being compared to the summer. Iambic Pentameter is essentially the meter or the basic rhythm of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Love is an intangible thing, and emotion, it can have no real definition, because it can mean so many things depending on the situation. I enjoyed this sonnet because Shakespeare had the ability to show his poetic skills in appropriating metaphors and conceits in clever ways, so that the poem becomes, not just a tribute to the beloved but also a testament to his great skill as a poet. Bibliography none Word Count: 1520

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