Shakespeare’s Sonnets Essay

929 words - 4 pages

A sonnet is a lyric poem of fourteen lines, following one of several set of rhyme-schemes. Critics of the sonnet have recognized varying classifications, but the two characteristic sonnet types are the Italian type (Petrarchan) and the English type (Shakespearean). Shakespeare is still nowadays seen as in idol in English literature. No one can read one of his works and be left indifferent. His way of writing is truly fascinating. His sonnets, which are his most popular work, reflect several strong themes. Several arguments attempt to find the full content of those themes.

Shakespeare’s themes are mostly conventional topics, such as love and beauty. Nevertheless, Shakespeare presents these themes in his own unique fashion, most notably by addressing the poems of beauty not to a fair maiden, but instead to a young man: ‘‘shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate” (book). Shakespeare points out that the youth’s beauty is more perfect then the beauty of a summer day. It is also “more temperate”, in other words more gentle, more restrained whereas the summer’s day might have violent excesses in store. At first glance of sonnet 18, it’s pretty much certain that one would think Shakespeare is referring to a woman, not a man. The idea of a man describing another man with such choice of words is always seen with a different eye. Several even stated that Shakespeare is homosexual. Whichever the case may be, Shakespeare painted beauty in the most original matter. He dared to do what everybody else didn’t, or maybe feared to, and accomplished his goal with flying colors. Besides, in his sonnets, Shakespeare states that the young man was made for a woman and urges the man to marry so he can pass on his good look and intelligence; this somewhat alleviates the doubt and questions regarding Shakespeare’s relationship with the young man. Shakespeare is also confident that he will immortalize the young man’s beauty in his verse, thereby defying the destructiveness of time: “So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, So long lives this and this gives life to thee” (book). Shakespeare believes that his verse will live on as long as there are people drawing breath upon this earth. Eventually, the young man whom Shakespeare praised will betray him, having an affair with the Dark Lady.

Who is the Dark Lady? She is Shakespeare’s subject of passion, a woman of questionable attractiveness and virtue: “And in some perfumes is there more delight than in the breath that from my mistress reeks” (book). The use of “reeks” was probably not quite as harsh and damaging to the concept of beauty as it seems to a modern ear. The word was not as suggestive of fetid exhalations as it is now. However, even from an early date, it tended to be associated with...

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