William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18
In his sonnet, Sonnet 18, Shakespeare illustrates whether or not his lover will live on eternally or temporally using a distinctive form of writing. Peaceful/frustrated tones, personification intertwined with metaphors, and descriptive imagery along with various poetic devices enable the reader to see from the speaker’s perspective. The speaker embraces his emotions to set the tone in a lovely way in which his lover would surely be surprised.
This Shakespearean style sonnet consists of 14 lines with an iambic pentameter. The sonnet contains two quatrains, shadowed by a third quatrain, and interestingly concludes in rhyming couplets. The poems use of two distinct tones and figurative language causes a reader to understand the passion the poet feels. In this sonnet, Shakespeare expresses his love in a unique way to the person he loves.
In the first half of the quatrain, the speaker starts off with a rhetorical question comparing the woman he loves to a summer day. The speaker uses a metaphor to compare his lover to a summer’s day since summer is considered to be warm rather than cold like winter would be. Rather than using any of the other three seasons, the speaker purposely chose the season that is considered to be the most beautiful to society. This is a great form of comparison because he uses this cliche and declares that she is in fact better than a summers day. In the second line, Shakespeare answers his own question and says his lover is more than that, but more temperate. The use of the word temperate means she is more measured or moderate than the usual summer day. In the third line, the speaker brings up the month of May as a method of comparison and alludes to an earlier time which is a time of youth. In the fourth line, the speaker states that summer is too short a date, meaning although summer is only temporal the persons beauty will live on. The tone in this first quatrain starts as peaceful and airy and continues into the second quatrain in the fifth line.
In the second quatrain the speaker uses yet another metaphor comparing his lover to the eye of heaven which is a denotation to the sun. This form of figurative language emphasizes how radiant his lover is in his eyes because he also mentions the sun being too hot. Ultimately he seems to hint at the fact that although the sun is beautiful and bright, sometimes it can get dim throughout time. The tone of the poem starts to shift for the rest of the sonnet. Shakespeare does not seem to neglect the form of imagery throughout the first quatrains. The speaker uses all of the five senses to paint a vivid picture of just how imperfectly perfect his lover is to him. He uses both hot and rough to appeal to the sense of touch, while appealing to the sense of sight by using shines and gold.
In the beginning of the third quatrain, the author uses a hyperbolic concept to exaggerate the love he has for his significant other. The use of the word eternal in line twelve, exaggerates how his lovers beauty will live on forever and the love for her will never die, but in reality one person cannot live forever or eternally. When the speaker mentions that death will brag in reality only humans can brag not death. The speaker also mentions that death gives off shade. He may reference death as a person who gives off shade and blocks the light which signifies a dark mysterious mood. This dark mysterious tone may be intentional for the speakers audience and expresses how his lover cannot be killed even by death itself. Shakespeare then proceeds to describe his eternal love in line twelve by stating that his lovers beauty will never grow old. The speaker does a fascinating job on describing how perfect his lover is. If we think of the time of year, we associate summer as someone who is in their prime, fall as someone in their middle age, and winter near the end of ones life. The choice of the words thou grow’st in line twelve contribute to the sonnets desperate tone to ensure his lovers beauty does not change throughout time. In the same line the speaker mentions eternal lines meaning in the poem he has written the love for his significant other will never pass because it is written in the sonnet and it preserves the love eternally. The lines can also refer to his lover being grown into time, as if time is a stream and his lover is going to be joining that stream therefore being preserved .
In the final rhyming couplet ending in rhyme scheme gg, declares just how immortal his lover is. The two final lines tells the reader that as long as people are able to read this sonnet the memory and the beauty of person Shakespeare has written about will last forever. All of the various forms of writing the speaker uses contributes to how romantic this sonnet really is. The speaker had a unique way of establishing a problem which was a frustration to help his readers understand just how significant his love truly is for his lady to then resolving the issue within the final two lines, called the couplet. Shakespeare used the season of summer throughout his poem to show how nature may fade, but ultimately art is immortal. Though beautiful at moments in time everything in nature enjoys only but a moment of perfection. Although physicality’s are so temporal the poetry of Shakespeare will end only when mankind seizes to exist.
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