The couplet’s effect on the Shakespearean sonnet alone discredits the view that it is an inflexible verse form. In most cases, it heightens and enriches the sonnet in its entirety, and is often its most vivid element. In Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18, it gives the seemingly conventional love poem more poignant meaning and significance. The repetition of ‘so long’ in both couplets lines signifies a volta beyond that at the beginning of the second quatrain . A similar effect is noted in Keat’s Bright Star; ‘still, still to hear her tender-taken breath…’ This close repetition slows the pace, coupled with the effect of the double meaning of ‘still’. Both these examples link to J. Paul Hunter’s theory that each line of the couplet line are ‘questing for relationship and the couplet encloses them so that they have to find in-house relationships- mates within their own s...
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... in line 6. Furthermore, the tercet in the middle couplets demonstrates that Finch’s love for her husband cannot be contained by the couplet form and is breaking free of its confines. Punctuation and lists within short lines create a relentless pulse of Finch’s longing for her husband, who was absent from court, whilst occasional enjambment creates open couplets, as if the subject matter is escaping from its form. Thus whilst Finch adopts a timely verse form to contain inexpressible emotion she candidly addresses an unconventional view that transcends conventional verse form. Thus whilst heroic couplets are used to describe high subjects such as nature and love, they are perhaps at their most flexible when deliberately broken. This strengthens the couplet’s cause as a device allowing conversational ease and presenting arguments naturalistically within fixed domains.
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