A Literary Analysis of Shakespeare’s Famous Sonnets

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William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright whose works are still enjoyed. He is widely acclaimed for his remarkable plays and poetry. He wrote the famous romantic sonnets, the best known of which is perhaps Sonnet 18 (Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day).

This poem has sparked thousands of articles and books on its meaning, and Shakespeare’s other sonnets are no less studied. Given their widespread popularity, it’s important to know how to analyse them in order to grasp their deeper meaning. In this article, we’ll discuss some ways you can opt while doing your own literary analysis of Shakespeare’s famous sonnets.

Shall I Compare Thee to A Summer’s Day?

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This sonnet is one of the most popular of Shakespeare’s 154 works. It is a Petrarchan-style love poem, written in iambic pentameter. In the first quatrain, the speaker compares his love to a summer day, saying that she is more lovely and more temperate. He goes on to say that summer days are eventually overshadowed by harsh winters, but his love will never fade. The second quatrain speaks of how he has spent time with his love, who has been as kind as any lover could be.

In the third quatrain, he writes about how happy they are together, and how their joy can’t be contained; while they were enjoying themselves there came an interruption–but it only served to heighten their happiness.

In the final couplet, he says that her beauty cannot be matched; all other beauties pale in comparison with hers.

In-depth Analysis

The first stanza of Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? by William Shakespeare compares two seemingly opposite things (you and summer) with each other. Yet even though they seem opposites, both comparisons highlight beautiful aspects of love and devotion between two people. Since both lovers seem so different, how could they possibly be compared? The thing they have in common is that they are both incomparable.

No matter how hard you try, you cannot truly compare them side-by-side – one will always hold up better than its counterpart. As the speaker says Thou art more lovely and more temperate which makes it clear that he values your traits over those of the season.

As he goes on to say “rough winds do shake the darling buds of May”, and “summer’s lease hath all too short a date,” it becomes clear that our love doesn’t need such brief seasons because it will never end. In conclusion, Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? demonstrates the speaker’s profound love for you through comparison with something which holds very little significance for him.

Sonnet 57 (When in Disgrace with Fortune And Men’s Eyes)

This sonnet is all about feeling down and out, and how the speaker longs for death as an escape. The first quatrain talks about how the speaker is shunned by everyone, and how they are sick of all the drama.

The second quatrain talks about how the speaker wishes they could just die and be done with it all. The third quatrain talks about how death would be a release from all their troubles. And finally, the couplet offers a bit of hope, with the speaker saying that even though things are bad now, eventually they will improve.

Time shall teach me to live without my heart, the speaker says in lines 10-11. And time teach thee to love without thy part. Thus, there may be some hope for those who have had a hard time at the beginning of this sonnet, because everything will eventually get better.

The poem brilliantly highlights what the speaker feels like – especially if we’re having a rough day. It’s always nice to know that someday it’ll get better, no matter how terrible things seem right now.

Sonnet 121 (Tired with All These, For Restful Death I Cry)

This sonnet is about the speaker being tired of life and longing for death. The first quatrain talks about how the speaker is surrounded by things that are constantly changing, but death is the one constant in life. The second quatrain compares the speaker’s love to a summer day, saying that even though summer days are beautiful, they eventually end. But the speaker’s love will last forever.

In the third quatrain, the speaker says that even though death is scary, it is also peaceful and restful. And in the final couplet, the speaker asks for death to come quickly. This sonnet is one of Shakespeare’s most famous because of its theme of mortality. It is also one of his darkest sonnets, because it talks about death so directly.

Sonnet 30 (When to The Sessions of Sweet Silent Thought)

At first glance, this sonnet seems as if it would be happy or romantic, with lines like When I do count my blessings. However, once you read on into the poem, you realize that it isn’t as happy as you originally thought.

The entire poem talks about different stages of love, such as counting your blessings and feeling infatuated with someone new. The final two lines say but then my thoughts on her do think themselves again which can mean many different things depending on who you ask. Some people interpret this line as meaning that when a person falls out of love with someone else, they fall back in love with themselves instead.

See Also:

Shakespeare’s Most Famous Plays

5 Most Famous Poems of Sylvia Plath

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