Shakespeare's Sonnets


Length: 1553 words (4.4 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Excellent
Open Document
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

More ↓

Continue reading...

Open Document

There has been some dispute whether or not the sonnets are actually written by William Shakespeare,
the strongest argument for this is the phrase "BY.OVR.EVERLIVING.POET.", in which some, the most notable being the entertainment lawyer and author Bertram Fields, argue that this would mean the author would be dead by 1609, while William Shakespeare lived until 1616.[1]
The 154 poems were most likely written over a period of several years and published in the 1609 collection.
These were all in sonnet form and previously unpublished, with the exception of poem number 138 and 144 which had been part of The Passionate Pilgrim, released in 1599.
Sonnets 18-126 tell the story of young man and the poet's admiration and love for him, while 127-152 are addressed to the poet's mistress. In this essay we will look at sonnets 18, 116 and 130 and what they say about love, and see if they share similarities with each other.[2]

Sonnet XVIII (18)

Sonnet 18 speaks of love in its purest form; it is obvious that the author has great admiration for the person the sonnet is addressed to, giving the subject an almost god-like and eternal status.
If we look at the two first lines:

"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:".

It is clear that he cannot use a summer's day as a comparison,
because the person is better than a summer's day.
He goes on to explain how a summer's day is not perfect, saying that:

"Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May" and
"And summer's lease hath all to short a date".

This is believed to mean that even a summer's day has its faults, in the start of summer there can be rough storms that distort the beauty of darling buds and summer does not last for ever.
At the end of the sonnet there are some very important lines, which speak of eternal life and beauty:

“But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade”

This can be seen as a promise that he will never die and be forgotten, nor will he lose the beauty which he owns. The last line could be a biblical reference “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil: for thou art with me”[3], even though death has taken him, his beauty will glow like a beacon and light up any shade death may have cast upon him, thus giving eternal life.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Shakespeare's Sonnets." 123HelpMe.com. 18 Nov 2017
    <http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id=169009>.
Title Length Color Rating  
The Principal Characters of Shakespeare's Sonnets Essay - One of the many intriguing aspects of Shakespeare's Sonnets is the identity of the principal characters within them, of which there are three: - The Young Man - The Dark Lady - The Rival Poet Nowhere in the Sonnets are these people explicitly identified and their anonymity has spawned much debate as to who these people could have been. The content of the Sonnets that refer to these people however, undoubtedly show that these were indeed real, living people and not imaginary inventions by the author for the sake of literary exercise....   [tags: William Shakespeare, Sonnets] 380 words
(1.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
The Beauty of Shakespeare's Sonnets Essay - In today's society, not many books or songs describe the true value of human relationships. Most popular songs and books are all about partying and doing things that make us forget about morals. However, if you were to read some of Shakespeare's sonnets, you would find that human relationship's are very much valued. By showing that friendship can mend a persons sorrows, that love could and should be immortalized, and that marriage between two individuals can be strong and true, Shakespeare's sonnets 55, 30, and 116 truly explain the real value of human relationships....   [tags: Shakespeare, Human Relationships, Analysis]
:: 2 Works Cited
1335 words
(3.8 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Love's Legality in Shakespeare´s Sonnets Essay - In most of the sonnets from around Shakespeare's era, love is a common theme. Written is a standard Shakespearean form, the rhyme scheme nor the meter deviate from the typical sonnet structure; although the form does not differ much, the central meaning and approach to love does. While the majority of sonnets speak of love for someone else, in sonnet 116 Shakespeare describes the truth of love between a couple. In 'Let me not to the Marriage of True Minds' Shakespeare utilizes legal terms to support their right to marriage and backs up his argument by employing solid metaphors regarding their love....   [tags: sonnets, marriage, fake]
:: 1 Works Cited
673 words
(1.9 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Shakespeare's Sonnets Essay example - There has been some dispute whether or not the sonnets are actually written by William Shakespeare, the strongest argument for this is the phrase "BY.OVR.EVERLIVING.POET.", in which some, the most notable being the entertainment lawyer and author Bertram Fields, argue that this would mean the author would be dead by 1609, while William Shakespeare lived until 1616.[1] The 154 poems were most likely written over a period of several years and published in the 1609 collection. These were all in sonnet form and previously unpublished, with the exception of poem number 138 and 144 which had been part of The Passionate Pilgrim, released in 1599....   [tags: William Shakespeare] 1553 words
(4.4 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Shakespeare's Sonnets Essay - Writings by William Shakespeare are perceived as pieces of art that are a reflection of the power, flattery as well as passion that was evident in the monarchy which he was devoted to. The designs that Shakespeare used were geared towards the expression of prestige and elegance of that era. He did so in a manner that was impressive and this catapulted him to the recognition he enjoyed. and power that represent the monarchy in which he served. Shakespeare designed his written with the intention of expressing the elegance and prestige of the monarchy’s era and did so in an impressive manner to achieve his recognition....   [tags: literary analysis, shakespeare]
:: 3 Works Cited
1035 words
(3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Five Similarities of Shakespeare Sonnets Essay - Of the many Shakespearean sonnets few of them incorporate five of the same similarities. With these, time stealing beauty, whether true or clichéd; a person defeating death by procreating; bring self absorbent; the importance of beauty; and an aspect of nature representing a time in some one’s life, Shakespeare shows all the aspects of being human. In the few sonnets that exemplify the same five similarities, time stealing beauty is potent. “Pity the world, or else this glutton be, to eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee” (Sonnet 1.13-4)....   [tags: Shakespearean Literature] 912 words
(2.6 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
The Influence of Shakespeare's Sonnets Essay - Introduction: The year 1609 has been an important year in the history of English literature, though historically it considers being a year of no great consequence in the World. English literature marked the year with great importance as “Shakespeare’s Sonnet” was first published on that year. Poetry lovers, therefore, consider the year for the inception of an incomparable series of poems that has no equal in world literature. For the last five hundred years or more the sonnet sequence remains as one of the mostly talked and debated sonnets in the Western literature....   [tags: mistress, rhyme, structure] 786 words
(2.2 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Shakespeare Sonnets Analysis Essay - William Shakespeare was an excellent writer, who throughout his life created well written pieces of literatures which are valued and learned about in modern times. One of his many works are 154 Sonnets, within these Sonnets there are several people Shakespeare “writes to”, such as fair youth, dark lady and rival poet. Sonnet 20 is written to fair youth, or in other words a young man. The idea of homosexuality appears in Sonnet 20 after the speaker admits his love towards the young man. Throughout Sonnet 20, the poet refers to women in adverse manner seeming false, belittled and only good for one thing....   [tags: Shakespearean Literature ]
:: 4 Works Cited
1076 words
(3.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on Gender in William Shakespeare's Sonnets - Gender in Shakespeare’s Sonnets      Much has been made (by those who have chosen to notice) of the fact that in Shakespeare's sonnets, the beloved is a young man. It is remarkable, from a historical point of view, and raises intriguing, though unanswerable, questions about the nature of Shakespeare's relationship to the young man who inspired these sonnets. Given 16th-Century England's censorious attitudes towards homosexuality, it might seem surprising that Will's beloved is male. However, in terms of the conventions of the poetry of idealized, courtly love, it makes surprisingly little difference whether Will's beloved is male or female; to put the matter more strongly, in some ways it...   [tags: Shakespeare Sonnet] 1781 words
(5.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Exploring Love in Shakespeare’s Sonnets Essay - In Plato’s Symposium, the discussion on the nature of love between Socrates and his companions in the house of Agathon clearly discerns key ideas that Shakespeare uses in the sonnets. Beauty, youth, and love are all topics of discussion in the conversations, and Plato’s ideas show up again and again when the sonnets are explored. In Symposium, Aristophanes gives a detailed description of a time when humans were not in their present physical form (Plato 353). His tale posits that the original form of humankind differed from the present in that “sexes were not two as they are now, but originally three in number,” to which he adds, “there was man, woman and the union of the two, having a name c...   [tags: Sonnets 24, 31, 46, 47, 93, 95, 113 ]
:: 6 Works Cited
4111 words
(11.7 pages)
Research Papers [preview]

Related Searches






“So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”

As long as people live and breathe and eyes can read this sonnet,
and as long as this sonnet lives, so will he. Thus making him practically immortal.

Sonnet CXVI (116)

Sonnet 116 is very interesting because it speaks of the love of love. Love is eternal, unchangeable and not subject to the words or actions mere mortals. Love can not be blamed for any faults, for love in itself is perfect. If we read the following lines:

“Let me not to the marriage of true minds 
Admit impediments. Love is not love 
Which alters when it alteration finds, 
Or bends with the remover to remove:“

If love alters or takes on another form in any way it is not love, for love as he sees it can not be harmed or change. This is a very philosophical and obviously a poet's view of love. We will have to assume that what Shakespeare means is that love between people can change, but love as an idea will never wither or die.

“O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown,
although his height be taken.“

Love is not a variable, it is a constant and can not be shaken or blown out like a candle or rot away like our mortal bodies. If a person has loved, that love will continue to exist even until the end of days. Shakespeare writes:

“Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks 
Within his bending sickle's compass come: 
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, 
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.“

He then finishes the sonnet by saying:

“If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.“

If his claim that love is eternal is proven to be an error, which could mean wrong, or to wander from the truth as error stems from the Latin word errare, which means to wander, then he has never written anything and man has never truly loved. By saying that he has never written anything, he could be saying that what he has written about love is of no value.

Sonnet CXXX (130)

This sonnet is remarkably different from the other two sonnets. It would seem as Shakespeare has nothing but utter disgust towards this earthly woman, yet there is something about her humanity that appeals to him, despite all her flaws. One is tempted to think that Shakespeare feels great sexual lust towards this woman, and is having a hard time coping with the impure love which he has held to such high regard in his other sonnets.

“My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.”

The first line is a classical comparison, the eyes being the window to the soul and when he says that her eyes are nothing like the sun it could imply that her soul is dark. Red is the symbol of passion and vitality, something that he could be claiming this woman's lack with that statement. In Shakespeare's time the skin should be white as snow and breasts are a symbol of femininity, by saying her breasts are dun, which is a shade of brown, he deprives her of what was the idea of feminine beauty in his time. Wires in this context should not be confused by the idea of industrial wires we have today, hair was often compared with golden wires, but the mistress has not golden wires but black ones growing on her head. These four lines describe her physical appearance as the author sees it, giving the impression of a vile and cruel creature, not deserved of love. It also gives her a very human nature, poems of love speaks of their subject as something divine, without flaws and perfect in every sense.

“I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound; “

These two lines are extremely important in the sonnet, as they mark a significant change in how she is depicted, from an absolutely wretched creature to someone who has captivated him with speech, albeit, he admits, music would be far more pleasing. This could indeed mean that while she does not say what he wants to hear, her words carry weight and he appreciates her bluntness and honesty, even though it would be easier to be with someone more compliant and unchallengeable.

“I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:“

He admits he has never seen a goddess walk, but by saying that his mistress treads on the ground he is humanizing her, describing that you do not have to be a goddess to be beautiful.

“And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.”

The same goes for the last two lines, his personal love for her is as rare and valid even if she is no goddess, but a mere human with all the accompanying flaws. The last line summarizes the entire sonnet by saying that there is no point in falsely comparing her with something that she is not, for she is a mere human and that in itself is beautiful.

Conclusion

Each sonnet is distinctively different in its own way, while sonnet 18 and 116 both share the ideal of eternal love, 18 deals more with the physical beauty and how inner beauty shines through and creates outer beauty, and as long as there are inner beauty outer beauty can never die, even if the subject dies.
In sonnet 116 it is the very notion of love that is the main character, once again it deals with eternal love, but this time instead of personifying love it is the idea of love that plays the main role. As long as there are people that are capable of loving, love will never die and cease to exist. Sonnet 130 is very different from the previous two, it deals with imperfect love, yet this love is just as valid as any.
Interpretation of beauty, as with poems, is in the eye of the beholder.

References
1. Fields, Bertram. Players: The Mysterious Identity of William Shakespeare. New York: Harper Collins, 2005, 114
2. Unknown, WikiPedia
retrieved 20.10.07 from
HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonnet_18"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonnet_18 3. The Holy Bible, Psalm 23:4


Return to 123HelpMe.com