Shakespeare's "That Time of Year" Analysis

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In William Shakespeare’s poem “That time of year,” Shakespeare creates various pictures to describe the passing of time. Each metaphor provides a different way expressing death, and each way expressed shortens as the poem continues. The quickening of events provides a contrast to the deceleration of life. The sequence of time-associated metaphors contributes to the theme of realizing deaths inevitability and taking advantage of final moments by providing very distinct and vivid comparisons between the elapsing of time in life and the illustrations of consumption.In the first quatrain autumn is used as a metaphor. The few leaves that remain to hang are yellowed with age, as illustrated in the following quotation: “When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang, / Upon the boughs which shake against the cold,” (1-3). Showing that age takes its toll, these exposed and bare limbs are left to shake. They have declined in their physical beauty and are more susceptible to the cold and harsh elements of life. Not only are the branches shaking in the cold, they are shaking in fear of what is approaching. Death. The next line speaking of “Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.” (4), seems to refer to the remains of what is left, the exposed and raw elements. The branches of the tree are barren. The place where the “choir” would sing it’s sweet melody is now vacant space. The word “late” can possibly mean dead or approaching death. This leads into the next quatrain that takes place late in the day and on the edge of darkness.The next quatrain contains a more expected metaphor between sleep and death. The sunset symbolizes warmth and life that is fading into darkness. When Shakespeare says, “Which by and by black night doth take a...

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...derstanding of time passed and time that remains allows one to become comfortable with such circumstances and express a love that must soon retire.The metaphors that represent the theme throughout the poem are similar in the way they all show the devastating and destructive factors of time. Further more, they provide a discourse surrounding the issue of mortality. With anticipation increasing from beginning to end, Shakespeare is able to demonstrate a level of comfort surrounding the inevitable. The continual imposition of death on life is a universal experience. Autumn turning into winter, day turning into night, and a flame diminishing entirely all illustrate this. The increase in intensity of associated color with metaphors mimics the intensity of the ending. As the end draws increasingly near, it becomes undeniable and provides the catalyst for the lesson of love.
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