Essay about Love in Shakespeare's Sonnets 18 and 130

Essay about Love in Shakespeare's Sonnets 18 and 130

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Almost four hundred years after his death, William Shakespeare's work continues to live on through his readers. He provides them with vivid images of what love was like during the 1600's. Shakespeare put virtually indescribable feelings into beautiful words that fit the specific form of the sonnet. He wrote 154 sonnets; all of which discuss some stage or feature of love. Love was the common theme during the time Shakespeare was writing. However, Shakespeare wrote about it in such a way that captivated his reader and made them want to apply his words to their romances. What readers do not realize while they compare his sonnets to their real life relationships is that Shakespeare was continually defying the conventions of courtly love in his writings.

Courtly love was the term used to describe the courtship rituals between noble men and women. This usually involved a dashing knight falling instantly in love with a strikingly beautiful woman. Most of these relationships did not result in marriage because it was thought that love only existed outside the bonds of marriage. The ritual of courtly love had rigid codes of conduct associated with it. Shakespeare took his writing to new levels by subtly defying the codes of conduct and relating courtly love to relationships between both two men and a man and a woman.

Shakespeare addresses his first 126 sonnets to the same fair man. Sonnet 18, by far one of the most famous of Shakespeare's sonnets, was written to illustrate his love and adoration for the man. "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? / Thou art more lovely and more temperate" (18.1-2). The first few lines of this sonnet place vivid images in the readers mind about a beautiful and sweet tempered person. Most readers be...


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...parisons.

Although both sonnets have the common theme of nature, Shakespeare used his words to distinguish the differences in his two lovers. One could say that he was ahead of his time with his writing because he did not bow down to convention. Because he wrote the way he wanted to and was not concerned with other writer's styles Shakespeare has become one of the most influential English writers of all time. He pushes his readers beyond the norms in a great deal of his writing, forcing them to take a closer look at what he actually implies with his words.

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. "Sonnet 18." The Longman Anthology of British Literature: compact edition. Ed. David Damrosch. Addison-Wesley, 2000. 553.

Shakespeare, William. "Sonnet 130." The Longman Anthology of British Literature: compact edition. Ed. David Damrosch. Addison-Wesley, 2000. 556.

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