Sonnet 18 Analysis

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1. Sonnet 18

Perhaps one of Shakespeare’s most famous sonnets, Sonnet 18 presents an idea of permanence, or rather, stability. The speaker begins by asking whether he should or will compare "thee" to a summer day. The speaker says that this “thee” is more lovely and more even-tempered, by listing the cons of summer: winds shake the buds that emerged in Spring, summer ends too quickly, and the sun can get too hot or be obscured by clouds. The speaker goes on to say that everything beautiful eventually fades by chance or by nature’s inevitable changes. Speaking of the “thee”, though, he argues that his or her summer (beautiful years) won’t disappear, nor will his or her loveliness waste away. Moreover, death will never be able to take the “thee”,
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Sonnet 130

Femininity, and the connection to the appearance of women, seems to be a significant theme in this sonnet. The speaker spends most of the poem talking about what's wrong with his mistress's looks. He draws her face, her body, and even her smell under scrutiny. This sonnet brings to light society’s preoccupation with beauty, and an ideal for a beautiful woman by highlighting how love poems do the same thing. It makes women into goddesses, not real human beings. The speaker insists that his idea of beautiful femininity doesn't depend on fitting an abstract, unrealistic fantasy.

To make his point, Shakespeare makes use of heavily negative comparisons. For example, in his description of the woman’s hair he says: “If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head” (line 4). This tackles another major cliché about women's beauty: that their hair should be silky smooth and shiny. Shakespeare turns this assumption on its head in a big way in this sonnet, as he does with the ideas of white breasts (line 3) and of her voice (lines 9-10). In terms of rhythm, I found the sonnet jarring. The first line picks up speed, patters along gracefully, and then comes to a stop. In line 3: "If snow be white, why then her breasts be dun," we get a quick little dash through the white snow section, then a pause at the comma, before taking off running again. However, it is not jarring in a heavyset way but in a lighter more delicate manner, which I find ties in nicely with the subject matter of the poem, being a parody of a love

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