Shakespeare's apostrophic "Sonnet 96," one of the sonnets written to the blond young man, is arranged similar to a rebuttal in an argument or debate." In the first three quatrains, he describes several possibilities, such as the youth's winning nature and potential for mischief, only to refute them in the couplet." He begins with concise one-line points in the first quatrain, moves to a comparison utilizing the entire quatrain in the second, and transitions to two-line arguments in the final quatrain, evoking the idea of a logical, organized argument." Along with reason, however, are the romantic tones of the couplet, which refutes the statements made in the douzain." The conditional nature of the sonnet parallels the individual conditional statements made in the quatrains.
Shakespeare uses end-stopped lines in the first quatrain that mimic the brisk style of a debate or quarrel to establish the arguments for and against the blond young man." He explains, "Some say [his] fault is youth" (1), while others think that youth is his "grace" (2)." The parallel structure of lines one and two deftly contrast the range of opinions on the subject's character."" Along with youth, Shakespeare claims that some view "gentle sport" (2) as a grace as well, playing on the double meaning of "sport" as both "pleasant pastime" and "amorous dalliance or intercourse" (OED)."" It appears that Shakespeare falls in this category, saying in line three that people of all stations and classes love the young man's graces and faults, because he "makest faults graces" (4)." Line four possesses a fault in being hypermetric, which÷like the young man's faults÷can b...
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...tradictory to the remainder of the sonnet, as well as the fact that the rhyme of the couplet returns to the b rhyme of the first quatrain." Perhaps this implies that Shakespeare is among the people who "say [his] grace is youth and gentle sport" (2).""" However, the amorous connotation of "sport" in line two fits well with the romantic couplet, which serves as a rejection of the suggestions of the rest of the sonnet, and instead seems to suggest that the young man be content to restrain himself for the love of the poet.
The Oxford English Dictionary."" 2nd ed." Oxford:" Clarendon P, 1989." 26 Feb." 2001." http://www.asu.edu/lib/resources/db/oed.htm
Shakespeare, William." "Sonnet 96."" The Norton Anthology of English Literature." Eds." M. H." Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt." 7th ed." 2 vols." New York: Norton, 2000." 1:" 1031-32.
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