Organizational Aspects of Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Shakespeare organizes his sonnets in many unique ways. By looking at a sonnet one can usually tell that Shakespeare wrote it. Through the use of metaphors and stanzas, Shakespeare’s sonnets contain themes such as love and beauty, which were common at that point of time in history. Through many different avenues, Shakespeare communicates his thoughts and ideas through metaphors. His use of iambic pentameter, Sonnet pattern, and metaphors is what makes his Sonnets unique as well as comparable to essays.

In the Shakespearean Sonnet, a certain pattern is followed. The first three parts of the Sonnet are quatrains, which are four lines long each. The last part of the Sonnet is called a couplet, which consists of two lines at the end of the Sonnet. These factors are part of the reason why Shakespeare’s Sonnet’s are similar to essays, in that there is a format that is followed.
Shakespeare’s sonnets utilize metaphors for many things. There is usually one in each quatrain. In sonnet 147, for example, Shakespeare is comparing love to a disease: “My love is as a fever, longing still/For that which longer nurseth the disease”. Shakespeare is telling us that his love is comparable to a symptom of a disease, and that the symptom, love, feeds the disease, which may be a relationship. Sonnet 18, one of the more famous poems by Shakespeare, clearly illustrates the use of metaphors in poems. The opening line, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day”? shows us a mockery of comparison. He continues with, “Thou art more lovely and more temperate:/ Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May”. By Shakespeare saying this, he means that he will not compare this person to summer because summer is not always a good thing. He explains that it is not a good thing because “Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shine”. This means that it is too hot. Through these few lines, he is making a mockery of comparisons to people and nature.

Shakespeare’s sonnets are very much like structured essays. Each stanza is comparable to a paragraph. For example, in Sonnet 73, Shakespeare writes, “That time of year thou mayst in me behold/When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang”. This is conveying that he is talking about seasons, which is a set up for the rest of the sonnet. He continues by writing, “In me thou seest the twilight of such day/As after sunset fadeth in the west”. This set of lines is talking about day, specifically the night and when it comes. Shakespeare also states in Sonnet 73 that, “In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
/That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,”. All of these aforementioned lines are metaphors for death and old age. Turning into leaves and having them fall is symbolic of age and the process of aging. Age is also symbolized in the metaphor about the sun fading. Death and/or is communicated through the line in which Shakespeare talks about a glowing fire, in which the ashes of it are his youth. Shakespeare expresses so much information in a small amount of lines. They are like short essays or stories in the form of a poem.

Another way in which Shakespeare’s sonnets are similar to essays is that the end line is like the thesis of a paper or essay. For example, in Sonnet 55, the final line goes as follows, “You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes”. This line is summing up all of the stanzas and metaphors presented in this sonnet, which are indicating natural disasters. The final line is saying that the reader will survive them as long as they have the love and admiration of their significant other. The presence of a thesis statement is also evident in an unnumbered Sonnet, which starts with the line, “Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest” (Shakespeare). In this sonnet, the last line states, “Die single, and thine image dies with thee”. This Sonnet is describing the importance of pro-creating. If one does not pro-create, they are foolish and they are doing society a disservice. By stating the last line, this is a form of a thesis, summing up the sonnet. The last line is saying that if a person does not mate and pro-create, then they are not passing on a part of themselves, meaning that all of them dies when they die, as opposed to having a part of them alive in their offspring. Comparing thesis statements to the last lines of Shakespeare’s Sonnets is significant to the form of his Sonnets.

Ultimately, Shakespeare uses a number of avenues to convey his writings. Like an essay, there is a format used. There is also a visible thesis, as well as paragraph like lines; stanzas. This proves the hypothesis that Shakespeare’s Sonnets are comparable to an essay. Through his use of many literary tools, Shakespeare conveys to the reader vivid imagery of his subject, usually done metaphorically. Shakespeare’s use of these tools gives us a condensed piece of literature that expresses to us a dramatic thought or idea that is beautifully expressed.

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