Shakespeare 's Differing Opinions Of Preservation

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Sonnet 17 and Sonnet 55: Shakespeare’s Differing Opinion of Preservation

Two constant themes throughout this collection of sonnets is death and preservation. Shakespeare battles with the idea of how to preserve not only the beauty of his subject, but also his work without losing value and merit. Sonnet 17 and Sonnet 55 share the common idea that preservation is necessary and important, but each take different approaches to this preservation. From Sonnet 17 to Sonnet 55, Shakespeare grows confident in his craft and begins to develop a different ideology when it comes to preservation. In this paper, I will compare and contrast Sonnet 17 and Sonnet 55 and thoroughly examine Shakespeare’s changing preservation ideology.
Sonnet 17 focuses
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The speaker in Sonnet 17 doesn’t only focus on the importance of the child for the subject, but also the stake they hold in the child. As stated the poet is fearful. He is worried about preserving his craft and his personal legacy. At this moment he doesn’t understand his true worth as a writer and the power his words hold. He doesn’t understand that they legacy of his subject can live in his words. But he learns in Sonnet 55.
In Sonnet 55, Shakespeare’s confidence as a writer begins to blossom. This is proven in the first two lines of the poem where he says, “Not marble nor the gilded monuments/Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme”. One can’t get more cocky than that. Shakespeare sets the tone. He lets his confidence shine through and makes sure that nothing is hidden when it comes to his ability and the power his words hold. He begins to understand that the legacy of the subject can be preserved in a poem, if captured correctly. He goes on to iterate that his words can stand the test of time because words can’t be destroyed saying, “than unswept stone besmeared with sluttish time/When waste war shall statues overturn” (line 4,5). The speaker is saying that the the tangible things can be destroyed and in some ways the subject should feel flattered that he [Shakespeare] decided to preserve his legacy in such an indestructible way. He has an understand that nothing lasts forever, even humans.

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