Critical Analysis - Shakespeare's Sonnet 18

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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Sonnet #18 "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" -- William Shakespeare Mood: Cheerful, praising, awestruck, confident Theme: True beauty is immortalized through art and thus prevails despite the ravages of time.

Structure: Lines 1-9, 10-14 In sonnet #18, William Shakespeare reveals that through art, true beauty is immortalized and thus surmounts the ravages of time. The poet expresses an awestruck, confident and praising attitude towards his subject to convey his idea that his mistress is more beautiful than anything in this world. He is enforcing that his art is outside the world of time and to validate his point, he embodies the eternity of his lady's beauty through the permanence of poetry.

In lines 1 to 9 of the sonnet, Shakespeare states his initial question "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" and this statement provides the basis for the rest of the poem.

The praise and awe is most evident in these lines as he reveals all the qualities the mistress possesses. In lines 10 to 14, the poet makes a confident assertion as to her "eternal summer" and reinforces the fact that her beauty will remain forever in art.

In the first line of the poem, the poet asks a rhetorical question to establish what he is comparing his mistress to. He is taking something already regarded as beautiful and is rising above it to begin the praise of his lady. The extent of her beauty is immediately illustrated as she is "more lovely and more temperate" than summer itself. By this, the poet suggests that she is more gentle and restrained whereas a summer's day may have violent excesses in store. The beautiful flowers present at the beginning of summer are shaken by the "rough winds" and this reveals that...