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An Analysis of Shall I Compare Thee to a Summers Day? (sonnet 18)

Autor:   •  April 25, 2013  •  Essay  •  1,401 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,240 Views

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I shall analyze thee?

: An analysis of Shall I compare thee to a summers day? (Sonnet 18)

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” dares to compare a lover to the aspects of a summer’s day. This comparison is the initial theme of the sonnet. In the comparison Shakespeare discovers that the lover is not like a summer’s day that has “Rough winds” that “shakes the darling buds” and is often “all too short a date” (3-4). Shakespeare finishes the first sestet with how inconsistent the sun is. “Sometimes too hot the” sun “shines”, “And often” the suns “gold complexion dimm’d” behind clouds (5-6). In Shakespeare’s second sestet, he “brags” in the face of death as to how “fair from fair sometimes declines”, but this lover’s “eternal summer shall not fade”, “Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st” and that “Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade” (7, 9-11). Shakespeare hits the second and main theme of his Sonnet in the last line of the second sestet, and in the rhyming couplet at the end. In Shakespeare’s “Shall I compare thee to a summers day”, the problem is finding a way to allow the lover to live forever as the lovers beauty suggests. Shakespeare does this by using his art (poetry) as a monument for the lover. This allows the lover to live forever in the poem and for the poem to make the lover immortal.

With most conventional sonnets, the theme is love or a derivation of love such as proclaiming love. Shakespeare follows this theme in the first and second sestet. In the first sestet, Shakespeare asks the question; “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” (1). This question is addressed to the lover and shows who the subject of the sonnet is. With this question, Shakespeare places the image of a perfect summer’s day in the mind of the reader. At this point, the reader expects a comparison as the title suggests, how similar the subject is to a summer’s day. Shakespeare then uses the line; “Thou art more lovely and more temperate”(2). This line, its self, claims the lover to be more lovely and more constant or calm than a summer’s day. This line completely flips the original thought of the comparison, as the title suggests, to a comparison of how different the lover and a summer’s day are. This makes the reader’s mind reel with questions left and right about how such a claim could be true. This gives the drive for the reader to take in the hard truth that he explains in the first sestet. He continues the sestet by claiming what a summer’s day truly is; “ Rough winds do shake darling buds”, ”summer’s lease hath all too short”, ”too hot the eye of heaven shines”, and “often his gold complexion dimmed” (3-6). Shakespeare uses these attributes to claim that the lover is nothing like a summers day. By listing such attributes,

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