Shakespeare And Sidney : A Dialogue Of Limited Desire

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Shakespeare and Sidney: A Dialogue of Limited Desire
In perhaps the most famous and well-known of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets, the speaker opens this poem with a question: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” (1). It is a typical sonnet in that it has a rhyme scheme, is 14 lines long, and in iambic pentameter. On the surface, this is simply a praise of the beauty of the speaker’s beloved; he is not like the unpleasant heat of the summer, he is agreeable and eternal. This subject shall never fade nor stray like summer or any other love which sometime decline. Like a lyrical poem, in “Sonnet 18” there is a strong use of imagery, a sense of trying to catch the intensity of a fleeting moment, describing the passion one feels for someone so beautiful. It is a very personal tale. The speaker seems to be enamored with his subject—a fair and youthful lad who is addressed on many occasions in Shakespeare’s repertoire of sonnets. Though readers do not receive any physical description pertaining to the youth, according to the speaker he is fairer and more beautiful than any summer’s day. At the very beginning, the speaker asks “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” (1) yet, ironically, the sonnet never gives any comparisons between the two. At all. In fact, he only contrasts them. So, would it be just or reasonable to compare an Adonis-type of subject to the fleeting, hot, never-lasting summer? According to the narrator, certainly not. As death for the youth is sadly

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