William Shakespeare and His Sonnets

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While William Shakespeare’s exact date was unknown, his parents were John Shakespeare and Mary Arden. William was his mother’s third child of eight, but the first to survive infancy. He was baptized on April 26, 1564 in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. “This has led scholars to conjecture that he was born on April 23rd, given the era’s convention of baptizing newborns on their third day.”

While “(Attendance registers do not survive)” countless imagine he was educated at the King Edward VI Grammar School in Stratford, where he learned Latin and a slight amount of Greek and read the Roman dramatists. When Shakespeare was 18 years old in November of 1582, he married the daughter of a local farmer named Anne Hathaway “a woman seven or eight years his senior”. Having a daughter named Susanna born in 1583, and then had twins Hamnet and Judith born 1585. While Shakespeare’s son Hamnet died in boyhood, the couple had no other children.

While not many else endeavors are known from the year his twins were born in 1585 between 1592. A Groatsworth of Wit by Robert Greene refers to Shakespeare as an actor and playwright. While during Shakespeare so-called “Lost years” he may have taught at school during this time but it seems more possible that shortly after 1585 he went to London to begin his education to be an actor. However, between June 1592 and April 1594 London theaters was often closed because of the plague disease. During that hard time, Shakespeare probably had some type of income from his patron Henry Wriothesley, whom he dedicated his first two poems, Venus and Adonis (1593) and The Rape of Lucrece (1594). While his reputation is based on plays, he began as a famous poet first.

Shakespeare quickly gained a reputation as “the most excellent” English playwright in both comedy and tragedy.

Shakespeare wrote his sonnets mainly in iambic pentameter, with a rhyme scheme of each sonnet line consist of ten syllables, and his genre being renaissance poetry. He wrote 154 sonnets, most likely written over a extensive period of time. While the majority of the sonnets such sonnet 1 through sonnet 126 are addressed to a young man, while the remaining are addressed to a “dark lady”.

Sonnet 3 is a much easier poem to understand, even though the form of the poem is a typical 14 line Shakespearean sonnet consisting of three quatrains and a rhyming couplet. While the main theme is obsession with the young man’s beauty, having a child and former beauty/beauty, and that death prohibiting the beauty. The tone of the poem focuses on Shakespeare’s obsessed passion over the young man. In the first line of the poem the young man is looking into the mirror which is reminding us of his vanity.

Shakespeare continuing to talk about the young man’s beauty and how it reminds the world of his mothers of how pretty she once was. He is in his prime and he should act now because if he continues to be single all the beauty will die with him and the world will be denied of the young man’s beauty and as would the potential mother. The poet is frustrated by the young man not wanting to have children so that his beauty can live on through a child. In another poem I believe it talks about being a crime against nature for him not to have children. Shakespeare also suggest that does the young man love himself that much that he would rather his beauty die with him. As the poem continues the feelings intensify over the young man.

In sonnet 1, the first quatrain talks about how the young needs to have children, the second quatrain accuses the man of being selfish with his beauty, while the third gives the man a warning about having kids because if he doesn’t then his beauty will be fade and vanish; and couplet Shakespeare is asking the man “to pity the world” and pass his beauty on or else he is greedy. Shakespeare has a message for the young man, that he should have children that way he will secure his beauty for future of the world. That even when the young man time has died, his “Heir might bear his memory.” If the young man does not have children that would be extremely selfish of him, because it would deprive the world of such beauty. Which is the theme of this sonnet obsessed with beauty and trying to tell him he should create children, and it being written in the traditional sonnet form iambic pentameter.

While Shakespeare used a rose analogy to get the point across of his beauty in Sonnet 1, he also does this in sonnet 18 using the seasons. Sonnet 18 has a theme such as love, beauty, and death. Shakespeare opening line of sonnet 18 “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” has to be one of the most famous lines, and maybe one of the most romantic. After that opening line, he does just that comparing this beautiful man to a summers day, and finding the young man’s beauty “more lovely and more temperate”.

Even saying that his beauty ever better than summer, because while summer comes with heat and of course an end to the season, the young man’s beauty shall not fade. While in the past 17 sonnets he tries to convince the young man to settle down and have kids so they can have his beauty but in sonnet 18 he doesn’t do that instead he accepts the passion. The poem is written with the three quatrains and a couplet, and written in iambic pentameter. While Shakespeare uses a metaphor in sonnet 18, he doesn’t use it traditionally he compares a summers day to the young man but how the young man is better than summer.

In sonnet 130 he speaks of his mistress Comparing her to other beautiful things but never in the mistresses favor. Like many of Shakespeare’s other sonnets this poem is about love. Part of the poem is about where love comes from and what makes our feelings for someone and the other big part is finding love in spite of physical beauty. Starting at the first line he compares his mistress’s eyes to being nothing like the sun and to go on to her lips being less red than coral and so on.

In the second caught quatrain he continues to speak about her in a not so flattering way such as he doesn’t see roses in her cheeks and how her breaths “reeks”. Well in the third quatrain he admits he does love her voice but music has a better sound. He even compares his mistress to a goddess saying how he never actually met or seen a goddess unlike them she walks on the ground. Finally in the couplet he declares just how much he loves this woman, that he thinks she is special and better than any woman that has had false comparisons.

In most poems they praise woman and idolize their beauty, and Shakespeare is poking at that concept. In sonnet 130 he teases the typical Petrarchan metaphors, by blankly telling the truth. By saying all of this he shows his true intentions which is to show that love does not need to be so arrogant or that a woman doesn’t need to look like a goddess in order for love to be real.

The theme for this sonnet is appearance, women and femininity, which are pretty related if not the same thing. While the tone seems such like its mocking, he makes fun of these cliché women characteristics. The poem talks all about the expectations of women and the stereotypes about the way they should look.


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William Shakespeare and His Sonnets. (2021, Mar 23). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/william-shakespeare-and-his-sonnets/

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