Sonnet 18 Essay Research Paper SONNET 18William

Sonnet 18 Essay, Research Paper SONNET 18 William Shakespeare?s Sonnet 18 is one of one hundred fifty four poems of fourteen lines written in Iambic Pentameter. These sonnets exclusively employ the rhyme scheme, which has

Sonnet 18 Essay, Research Paper


William Shakespeare?s Sonnet 18 is one of one hundred fifty four poems of fourteen lines

written in Iambic Pentameter. These sonnets exclusively employ the rhyme scheme, which has

come to be called the Shakespearean Sonnet. The sonnets are composed of an octet and sestet

and typically progress through three quatrains to a concluding couplet. It also contains figurative

language and different poetic devices used to create unique effects in his sonnets.

Shakespeare?s sonnets consist of words constructed in a certain manner or form, thoughts,

emotion and poetic devices. One way to interpret the sonnet is to think of ?thee? that

Shakespeare is referring to as a person. Following that line of thought the sonnet could read that

Shakespeare is in love with someone who is consistently beautiful. He tries to compare this

person to summer but summer is not as beautiful or constant. This person in Shakespeare?s eyes

will never grow old and ugly and not even Death can say that his person?s end is near.

In line 1, he starts the poem with a question. He asks if he should compare the person to

a summer?s day but ends up not doing so realizing that the person is superior. In the following 7

lines of this sonnet, he begins to show the differences between the person and a summer?s day.

He explains that the person?s characteristics is moderate and comfortable and has favorable

qualities in line 2. ?Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,? (line 3) means that the

rough winds of the summer can destroy the buds of the flowers and his particular person has no

such trait. In the forth line of the sonnet, Shakespeare justifies how summer is too short and

how his lover?s beauty does not end like this specific season does. In the next two lines, lines 5

and 6, the superb poet interpret the summer?s temperature. He explains how the summer can be

extremely hot and uncomfortable. He also describes how the sun can be dulled due to the

covering of clouds. It can obscure or shadow the earth, unlike the shining beauty of his lover.

Although Sonnet 18 is an extended metaphor, line 7 has a literal meaning that explains itself:

?And every fair from fair sometime declines,? With fair meaning beautiful, he is saying that

everything that is beautiful must come to an end and that all beauty fades except the one of his

lover. The next line is an example of the reasons why beauty fades. Chance makes beauty fade

by something dreadful happening. He says that natures changing course untrimmed meaning

that the seasons changing direction, path or time can deteriorate beauty.

In line 8, the turning point of the sonnet, Shakespeare specifies that something is

changing by using the simple word But. He goes on to explain that the person?s beauty will not

die. He itemizes eternal to mean that the person?s charm will live forever. You are not going to

lose possession of that beauty that you own, Shakespeare explains in line 10. In the eleventh line

of the sonnet, he says that Death won?t be able to brag that he has possession of the persons

beauty. In other words, the beloved will never die. At the end of the sonnet, he writes about

?eternal lines? which symbolizes that the beloved?s beauty will grow in this poem forever. In

the last two lines of this poem, lines 13 and 14, the poet means that as long as people read this

poem, that the beloved?s beauty will live. He also describes how the person will live in the spirit

and beauty of the poem. It could also represent the poem itself, which keeps the person beautiful


This sonnet has a basic form or structure. In this sonnet there are fourteen lines

divided into two clear parts, an opening octet which has 8 lines and a closing sestet which has 6

lines with a fixed rhyme scheme: ababcdcdefefgg. The octave presents the narrative, states the

proposition or raises a question. The sestet drives home the narrative by making an abstract

comment, applies the proposition, or solves the problem. In Sonnet 18 the octave says that the

beloved is better than a summers day. It develops the idea of this sonnet. The sestet then

explains why the beloved is better than a summer?s day. The sestet also states that the lover will

live forever. Instead of the octave and sestet divisions, this sonnet characteristically embodies

four divisions. Three quatrains of four lines each with a rhyme scheme of its own, and a rhymed

couplet. In this case, the rhyme scheme of the quatrains is: abab cdcd efef gg. The couplet

at the end is usually a commentary on the foregoing.

Some types of poetic devices that are frequently used in this love poem are meter, rhyme,

assonance, consonance, repetition, end & internal rhyme and alliteration. Meter is a sort of up

down bouncy ball type of sound that goes along with the line of poetry. It has accents and

unaccented syllables. Alliteration works by repeating one or more letters at the beginning of a

word throughout a line. Some examples of alliteration (shown in italics in the sonnet above) in

this sonnet is spread out in all fourteen lines. Words like shall summers, thee to, thou

temperate, art and, more more, do darling, and all a, summers short, sometime shines, too the,

hot heaven, fair from fair, summer shall and time thou are all examples of alliteration.

Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds. Examples of assonance (shown in bold in the

sonnet above) are spread throughout sonnet 18. Words such as compare summers, rough buds,

sometime declines, in his, thou grow?st, breathe see and lives his gives are all assonance.

Consonance, which means that the final consonants agree, is also used in this specific sonnet.

Some consonance examples (shown underlined in the sonnet above) are compare more, winds

buds, is his, fair fair, eternal shall, that ow?st, when in, men can, and lives this this are some good

examples of consonance. We also have end rhyme used in this Shakespearean sonnet such as day

may, temperate date, shines declines, dimmed untrimmed, fade shade, ow?st grow?st, and see

thee (shown in a script font in the sonnet above). Internal rhymes are also used such as: Lines 1

and 2, thee and lovely. We also have lines 3 and 4, do and too. Another example of an internal

rhyme is heaven and complexion and is his from lines 5 and 6. Repetition is very common in this

sonnet. In line 2 we have more and more, in lines 4 and 5 he also shows too and too. In lines 6

and 7 and and & fair fair. Towards the end of the sonnet, lines 10,11 and 12 show nor nor and

thou thou. The rhymed couplet has three repetitions which are so long, so long, can, can and

this, this.

Although William Shakespeare?s Sonnet 18 is an extended metaphor, there are other

examples of figurative language throughout the poem. In this sonnet, we have figurative

language such as metaphor, conceit, personification, antithesis, synecdoche or they just remain

self explanatory (literal). The conceit, controlling idea, of this poem is in line one when Thee is

being compared to a summer?s day, which is also a metaphor. Antithesis is shown in line 14

when Shakespeare says ?So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.? This is the balancing of

contrasting terms. An example of synecdoche is in line 12 when ?lines? is referred to as the

whole poem. Examples of personification are seen in lines 3, 4, 5, 6, 11 and 14. In the third line,

Shakespeare says ?darling buds? giving human attributes to a flower. In line 4, summer is given

a life like quality to rent or to lease. The sun in line 5 is referred to as the eye of heaven. The sun

is being compared to a face having a gold complexion in line 6. In line 11 Death is being

compared to a braggart giving Death a human quality. In the last line of this sonnet, the poem

itself is being compared to a living thing. Although all the lines just mentioned are examples of

personification, they are all metaphors as well. Lines 7 and 13 have both literal meanings. These

two lines are self-explanatory and mean what they say. The remaining lines 2, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 12

and 13 are all metaphors because throughout those lines, the beloved?s beauty is being

compared to the summer. Iambic Pentameter is essentially the meter or the basic rhythm of

Shakespeare?s sonnets.

Love is an intangible thing, and emotion, it can have no real definition, because it can

mean so many things depending on the situation. I enjoyed this sonnet because Shakespeare had

the ability to show his poetic skills in appropriating metaphors and conceits in clever ways, so

that the poem becomes, not just a tribute to the beloved but also a testament to his great skill as a