Eroticism and Mortality in Shakespeare's Sonnet 73 Essay

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Eroticism and Mortality in Shakespeare's Sonnet #73

William Shakespeare's sonnet cycle is famous with its rich metaphorical style. The depth of each sonnet comes from its multilayered meanings and images, which are reinforced by its structure, sound, and rhythm. Sonnet #73 provides an excellent example. This sonnet shows the speaker's agony over human mortality and, moreover, his/her way of coping with it in an effective way. The speaker, especially in terms of his cognizance of time, experiences dramatic changes in two ways: (1) from time measured by quantity to time as quality, (2) from cyclical time to a linear one. These changes, manifested by a set of images (autumn, twilight, glowing), enable him/her to embrace
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The second quatrain also gives a description of quantitative time as saying: "the twilight ... Which by and by black night doth take away"(5-7). The twilight, an arbitrary name of a particular moment or light among a full range of a day and a full spectrum of light, can be taken away little by little (Italic mine). Both quatrains share a basic assumption that time is something that one is losing throughout his/her life. Still, however, the second quatrain distinguishes itself from the first one in that it doesn't have such violent images as the first one. At least, death wouldn't come in a sadistic way as in the first quatrain but come as it "seals up all in rest"(8).1

On the other hand, in the last quatrain, time is not something measurable but a qualitative entity. Here, time turns to a glowing fire that burns through his/her lifetime. Since it is a continual process, death becomes a part of one's life. One's youth nourishes the fire until it expires in his/her death-bed and until "the ashes of his youth" itself chokes the last ember (10-12). Furthermore, the diction of this quatrain supports this positive attitude of the speaker's. For instance, the speaker does not say that the fire must be extinguished but "must expire"(11). This usage of an intransitive verb makes death felt not as an imposed or a forced result but as a part of life's own cycle. His/her saying "Consumed" also gives a more
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