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Shakespeare's Sonnet 18

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In "Sonnet 18," Shakespeare shows his audience that his love will be preserved through his "eternal lines" of poetry by comparing his love and poetry with a summer's day. Shakespeare then uses personification to emphasize these comparisons and make his theme clearer to his audience. Shakespeare also uses repetition of single words and ideas throughout the sonnet in order to stress the theme that his love and poetry are eternal, unlike other aspects of the natural world. Using the devices of metaphor, personification, repetition, and progression of tone, Shakespeare reveals his theme that the natural world is imperfect and transitory while his love is made eternal through his lines of poetry.

Shakespeare uses metaphors to show one object or idea having the same qualities as another. For example, he introduces metaphor within the first line of the sonnet when he asks the rhetorical question, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" Shakespeare uses this as a comparison because a "summer's day" is something with incredible beauty but is still not as beautiful as Shakespeare's love. The fact that Shakespeare chose to compare his love to a summer's day and not a day of another season helps to emphasize the eternity of his love and his poems. During the summer, the days are longer than in any other season. Even still, Shakespeare's love lasts longer than a summer's day. Furthermore, Shakespeare compares the "eye of heaven" having its "gold complexion dimmed" to the setting of the sun. He uses the human characteristic of "complexion" and the sun setting in nature to show his idea that all things in nature advance and grow old over time and, as the sun sets and the summer day ends, the "gold complexion" is "dimmed" and progresses further into decay. Next, Shakespeare compares a human life to the summer's day when he speaks about "thy eternal summer." This emphasizes again Shakespeare's idea that his love is "eternal," unlike other natural things that age and decay. When Shakespeare speaks of "nature's changing course untrimmed," he is comparing life to the uncertainty of nature. Shakespeare uses this metaphor in order to portray to his audience his idea that events that occur in life are uncertain, just as is the changing course of the natural world. He then contrasts this uncertainty of life with the certainty of the strength of his love with his line stating that "thy eternal summer shall not fade." With this line, Shakespeare uses a convincing tone to show the immutability of his love.

Along with metaphor, Shakespeare uses personification in order to emphasize his theme and give power to non-living things. First, Shakespeare personifies the sun by stating that "the eye of heaven shines [too hot]," which emphasizes the idea that what is found in the natural world is often extremely overwhelming, while his love is tolerable. For example, the "rough winds" of summer shake the "darling buds of May" while "sometime to hot the eye of Heaven shines." With this personification (i.e. the "eye"), Shakespeare gives the sun human qualities and makes it come alive. He is then able to compare his love and the sun easier and more clearly because the two are on the same level as they both portray human characteristics. Next, Shakespeare personifies death when he claims that it "brag[s]." Shakespeare employs this personification because, by giving death human traits he gives death power. Even with this power given to death, Shakespeare's love is still stronger and more powerful than death, thus connecting the personification to the progression of life which eventually leads to death. Lastly, in the couplet of the sonnet, Shakespeare personifies his poem with the use of the word "this" in the line stating "so long live this and this gives life to thee." He does this in order to give power and life to the poem, thus then allowing him to talk about his poetry as he would talk about a human or something else found in the natural world. As he gives these active, human qualities to the poem, Shakespeare adds a sense of flourishing beauty to it also.

Shakespeare also incorporates repetition of single words and the general idea of time in order to show his readers that the natural world is imperfect and temporary while his poetry is eternal. For instance, the word "time" itself is repeated three times, while the idea of time is used repetitively throughout the sonnet. For example, with the lines "rough winds do shake the darling buds of May," Shakespeare suggests that just as the summer progresses and the winds shakes the buds of May, life progresses as youth fades and aging occurs. The key word in this quote is "bud" because the bud signifies youth, and by these buds being shaken, the idea of youth departing is shown. Shakespeare further stresses the idea of

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