Analytical Essay Shakespeares Sonnets

How to Analyze a Shakespearean Sonnet

Writing an essay on a Shakespearean sonnet can be quite a challenge. The following are a few tips to help you start the process:

1. Find the Theme

Although love is the overarching theme of the sonnets, there are three specific underlying themes: (1) the brevity of life, (2) the transience of beauty, and (3) the trappings of desire. The first two of these underlying themes are the focus of the early sonnets addressed to the young man (in particular Sonnets 1-17) where the poet argues that having children to carry on one's beauty is the only way to conquer the ravages of time. In the middle sonnets of the young man sequence the poet tries to immortalize the young man through his own poetry (the most famous examples being Sonnet 18 and Sonnet 55). In the late sonnets of the young man sequence there is a shift to pure love as the solution to mortality (as in Sonnet 116). When choosing a sonnet to analyze it is beneficial to explore the theme as it relates to the sonnets around it.

Sonnet 127 marks a shift to the third theme and the poet's intense sexual affair with a woman known as the dark lady. The mood of the sonnets in this sequence is dark and love as a sickness is a prominent motif (exemplified in Sonnet 147). Often students will be asked to choose one sonnet addressed to the young man and one addressed to his mistress and analyze the differences in tone, imagery, and theme. Comparing Sonnet 116, with the theme of ideal, healthy love, to Sonnet 147, with the theme of diseased love, would be a great choice.

For a complete guide to the theme of each group of sonnets, please see the article The Outline of the Themes in Shakespeare's Sonnets.



2. Examine the Literary Devices

Shakespeare likely did not write his sonnets with a conscious emphasis on literary devices, and early editors of the sonnets paid little attention to such devices (with the exception of metaphor and allusion). However, in the era of postmodern literary theory and close reading, much weight is given to the construction or deconstruction of the sonnets and Shakespeare's use of figures of speech such as alliteration, assonance, antithesis, enjambment, metonymy, synecdoche, oxymoron, personification, and internal rhyme. Much modern criticism1 also places heavy emphasis on the sexual puns and double entendres in the sonnets (blood warm (2.14) being both blood and semen, etc). For more on this please see the commentary for Sonnet 75.

For examples of Shakespeare's use of antithesis and synecdoche, please see the commentary for Sonnet 12 and Sonnet 116.

For examples of Shakespeare's use of metonymy, please see the commentary for Sonnet 59.

For an example of Shakespeare's use of partial alliteration, please see the commentary for Sonnet 30. Notice the attention to alliteration and assonance in Sonnet 55.

For examples of Shakespeare's use of personification and extended metaphor, please see the commentary for Sonnet 55, Sonnet 65, Sonnet 73, Sonnet 2, and Sonnet 59.

For an example of Shakespeare's use of an elaborate metaphor known as a conceit, please see Sonnet 46.

For an example of what many consider to be one of Shakespeare's rare failed metaphors, please see the commentary for Sonnet 47.

Once you have identified such literary devices you can explore both how they contribute to a greater understanding of the theme and how they serve to give the sonnet movement, intensity, and structure.

3. Find a Copy of the Oxford English Dictionary

Researching the history of words Shakespeare used is a sure way to gain a greater understanding of the sonnets and will sometimes lead to new and fascinating commentary. Words that today have a specific meaning, such as hideous (see Sonnet 12) or gaudy (see Sonnet 1) often could have multiple meanings as the rapidly-changing language of the time was still heavily influenced by Old French and Middle and Old English. The OED is available online by subscription, as are a couple of free etymological dictionaries.

Do not be afraid to develop your own thoughts on the sonnets. A persuasive argument, backed by ample evidence, is always the key to a powerful essay.

Footnote 1: As Katherine Duncan-Jones points out, "Not until the American Joseph Pequigney's Such Is My Love in 1985 was a homoerotic reading of Shakespeare's Sonnets positively and systematically championed" (Shakespeare's Sonnets, 81).

_____

How to cite this article:
Mabillard, Amanda. How to Analyze a Shakespearean Sonnet. Shakespeare Online. 20 Nov. 2009. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/sonnetanalyze.html >.

Further Reading
Landry, Hilton. Interpretations in Shakespeare's sonnets. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1963.
Shakespeare, William. Shakespeare's Sonnets. Ed. Katherine Duncan-Jones. London: Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd., 1997.
______

Even More...

 Shakespeare Glossary
 Shakespeare Quotations (by Play and Theme)
 Early Versions of Shakespeare's Plays
 Shakespeare's Edward III?

 Shakespeare's Audience in his Day
 Going to a Play in Shakespeare's London
 Shakespeare's Trap Doors

 Shakespeare's Language
 Why Study Shakespeare?
 Portraits of Shakespeare
 Shakespeare's Contemporaries

Analytical essay shakespeares sonnets

Free analysis of shakespeare papers shakespeare's sonnets for a better understanding of shakespeare's sonnet 73, this essay offers an. Sonnet 18 is part of a large group of sonnets that shakespeare like analysis of shakespeare's sonnet #18 with essay writing in. Full glossary for shakespeare's sonnets essay questions cite this literature note summary and analysis sonnet 116 in sonnet 116, for example. An analysis of william shakespeare's sonnets, focusing on the intended audience and the issue of time. Sonnet 18 sonnet 18 is among the most famous of shakespeare’s works and is critical analysis of sonnet 18 march 15, 2013 by like other sonnets.

A summary of sonnet 60 in william shakespeare's shakespeare’s sonnets learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of shakespeare’s. This free term paper argues that shakespeare's theme of love in 'romeo and analytical essay: shakespeare in contemporary society: three sonnets in romeo. Shakespeare essays covers both shakespeare character analysis and critical essays for shakespeare's most famous plays. Suggestions for writing about shakespeare 1 10 explore shakespeare’s dramatization of gender issues, including.

Shakespeare's sonnets william shakespeare shakespeare's sonnets essays are academic essays for citation these papers were. Love is an emotion which all of us have a concept of, indeed many of us may even claim to have experienced what we would deem to be true.

View and download sonnets essays examples also discover topics, titles, outlines, thesis statements, and conclusions for your sonnets essay. How to analyze a shakespearean sonnet to a powerful essay is my love in 1985 was a homoerotic reading of shakespeare's sonnets positively and.

Shakespeare’s life how many sonnets did shakespeare create 154 how to write an analytical essay how to create a persuasive essay outline. Essay editing services literature join now log in home literature essays shakespeare's sonnets from autumn to ash: shakespeare's sonnet 73. Read this essay on sonnet 18 analysis in shakespeare’s “sonnet 18” sonnet 18 is part of the group of sonnets that is written to address men. Analysis and interpretation of william shakespeare’s “sonnet 130” - julia esau - essay - english language and literature studies - literature - publish your.

Free sonnet papers, essays, and research papers these results are sorted by most relevant first (ranked search) you may also sort these by color rating or essay. Essays and criticism on william shakespeare, including the works henry iv, parts i and ii, as you like it, hamlet, the tempest, sonnets - magill's survey of world.

Analytical essay shakespeares sonnets

Rated 3/5 based on 38 review

Analytical essay shakespeares sonnets mediafiles

One thought on “Analytical Essay Shakespeares Sonnets

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *