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Close Reading of Sonnet 18

  • Date Submitted: 03/27/2011 12:56 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 63.5 
  • Words: 858
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“Sonnet 18” by William Shakespeare focuses on the beauty of the speaker’s beloved and how this beauty will inevitably fade over time. It also explains that the speaker's love for the youth will never die because it will be remembered by all who read this poem. Shakespeare makes use of metaphors and imagery to compare the subject to a summer’s day and to immortalise him through verse.
      The strong use of metaphors and imagery in this sonnet enhances the power of the speaker's love.   The speaker is comparing his beloved to a summer’s day. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” (1) is the first metaphor which sets the tone for the reader. In addition, it is a rhetorical question because the speaker has already decided that his beloved’s beauty is far more attractive and alluring than a summer's day. Summer is also a metaphor for the full bloom of youth and beauty in all its glory.   Shakespeare uses this metaphor because he wants to demonstrate that the subject is flawless. The speaker then goes on to say “[t]hou art more lovely and more temperate” (2).   The speaker is saying that his beloved is more beautiful, more even-tempered and constant than a summer's day. The speaker then discovers that although youth and beauty may fade over time, love is everlasting and, in comparison, a summer's day is fleeting.   The perfect beauty of the subject has now transcended the imperfect beauty of a summer's day.
      Shakespeare uses the next six lines of the sonnet to outline the inadequacies of summer and how the subject cannot be compared to a summer's day.   “Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May” (3) refers to the stormy and tempestuous nature of early summer and the fragility of beauty. It also provides the reader with an image of a branch swaying in the wind.   “And summer's lease hath all too short a date” (4) shows that the season is short and its beauty does not last permanently.   The sun, referred to as the “eye of heaven” (5) can sometimes be too hot or...

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