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Shakespeare's Ideas About Love In His Sonnets

1394 words - 6 pages

Shakespeare's Ideas About Love in His Sonnets

The two sonnets Shall I Compare Thee and Let Me Not are by William
Shakespeare. Love is the main theme of both sonnets. Shall I Compare
Thee is written for Shakespeare's love, and it is more personal and
cheerful. He takes apart the greatness of a summer's day and compares
it to the subject of the poem, but the subject (whom we assume is a
'she') is always more divine and she is the most beautiful thing he
has ever seen. The sonnet states that the subject is "…more lovely and
more temperate…" than the finest summer's day. Let Me Not is a
philosophical interpretation of love, and implies that this is what
love should be like. In the end Shakespeare almost dares the reader to
challenge him about what he has written and declares that if he is
wrong then "…I never writ, nor man ever loved." The aim of this essay
is to illustrate how Shakespeare express' his ideas about love in
these two sonnets.

Shall I Compare Thee and Let Me Not are typical Shakespearean sonnets.
They begin with twelve lines of quatrains then ends with a rhyming
couplet. There are four lines to each quatrain, and three quatrains
before the couplet. The quatrains rhyme every other line. The first
quatrain of Let Me Not states that true love can never change: "…love
is not love which alters when alteration findes…" In the second
quatrain he uses the term "wandring barke" to discuss how love guides
the lost and the lonely. Even though we get old and die, true love
will sustain is what the third quatrain is about when he says, "…love
not alters not with his breefe houres and weekes but beares it out
even to the edge of doom…" In the last rhyming couplet Shakespeare
states that if his idea of love is incorrect then no man has ever
loved, and he has never written. In Shall I Compare Thee the first two
quatrains talk about how beautiful the subject of the sonnet is and in
the last quatrain it introduces the idea that she can be immortalised.
He expresses this by saying "…but thy eternal Sommer shall not fade…
nor shall death brag thou wandr'st in his shade…" The final rhyming
couplet declares that writing poetry will immortalise her.

Navigational imagery is used often in Let Me Not. For example, "O no,
it is an ever fixed marke, that lookes on tempests and is never
shaken; it is the star to every wandring barke." Shakespeare is saying
here that love guides a person, like a star to a lost ship, and
without love we are lost. True love will weather all storms and will
be constant. In the third quatrain Shakespeare writes about how love
lasts till time ends and the word "sickles" could be used in the sense
that he is gathering youth because "…rosie lips and cheeks…" do not
last forever.

Although he says "Love alters not with his breefe houres and...

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