What may strike contemporary readers, and not merely after an initial acquaintance with the sonnets, is the apparently unjustified level of idealization voiced by many of the sonnets—an adulatory treatment of noble love that, to a post-Freudian world, might seem archaic, no matter how comforting. In the two hundred years since Petrarch, the sonnet had developed into an instrument of logic and rhetoric.
The focus is on emotional richness, on evoking the immediacy of felt experience. Shakespeare uses many deliberately generalized epithets, indeterminate signifiers and floating referents that provoke meaning from their readers rather than providing it. Each line contains contradictions, echoes, and suggestions that require an extraordinary degree of emotional activity on the part of the reader.
The couplets frequently offer a reader indeterminate statements, inevitably breaking down any attempt at a limited formalist reading. The greatest of the sonnets—60, 64, , as well as many others—have such an extraordinary combination of general, even abstract, words and unspecified emotional power that the reader may take it as the major rhetorical characteristic of the collection.
In particular lines, too, these poems achieve amazing power by their lack of logical specificity and emotional open-endedness. Often a reader is swept on through the poem by a syntactical movement that is modified or contradicted by associations set up by words and phrases. There is usually a syntactical or logical framework in the sonnet, but so powerful are the contradictory, random, and disruptive effects occurring incidentally as the syntax unfolds that to reduce the sonnet to its seemingly replete logical framework is to miss the most amazing effects of these extraordinary poems.
Shakespeare is writing at the end of a very long tradition of using lyric poems to examine the nature of human love, and there is a weight of insight as well as of rhetorical power behind his collection.
Nowhere in the Petrarchan tradition are the extremes of erotic revelation offered in such rawness and complexity. Most of the conventional topoi of traditional poetry are the starting points for the sonnets—the unity of lovers , the power of poetry to immortalize the beloved 18, 19, 55 , contests between eye and heart, beauty and virtue 46, , and shadow and substance 53, 98, To do so, however, would be to nullify their extraordinary power of creation, the way they force ejaculations of recognition, horror, or joy from their readers.
Unpredictability and change are at the heart of the sonnets—but it is a continually shifting heart, and one that conceives of human love as definable only in terms of such change and finitude.
In Sonnet 60, for example, time is not an impartial or abstract background. Even where it is glanced at as a pattern observable in nature or humanity, it is evoked as a disruptive, disturbing experience that cannot be dealt with as a philosophical problem.
In Sonnet 15, it may be possible to enter into an understandable protest against time destroying its own creations a commonplace enough Renaissance sentiment , and to accede to a sense of helplessness before a malignant force greater than the individual human being.
When the sonnet tries, however, by virtue of its formally structured argument, to create a consciousness that seeks to understand and so to control this awareness, the reader encounters lines or individual words that may undermine even the temporary satisfaction of the aesthetic form. The sonnet does not and need not answer such questions. To attempt criticism of the sonnets is, to an unusual extent, to be challenged to make oneself vulnerable, to undergo a kind of creative therapy, as one goes back and forth from such textual gaps and indeterminacies to the shifting, vulnerable self, making the reader aware of the inadequacy and betrayal of words, as well as of their amazing seductiveness.
Consider, for example, Sonnet When one falls in love with a much younger person, does one inevitably feel the insecurity of a generation gap? What is more important in such a reading of the sonnets is the insistence that age or youthfulness are not important in themselves: It is the insistence itself that is important, not the mere fact of age—just as it is the anxiety with which a man or woman watches the wrinkles beneath the eyes that is important, not the wrinkles themselves.
It stands for an invitation to participate in some wider psychological revelation, to confess the vulnerability that people encounter in themselves in any relationship that is real and growing, and therefore necessarily unpredictable and risky.
Without vulnerability and contingency, without the sense of being thrown into the world, there can be no growth. Hence the poet invites the reader to accept ruefully what the fact of his age evokes—an openness to ridicule or rejection.
This is especially so in the Dark Lady sonnets, where there is a savage laceration of self, particularly in the fearful exhaustion of Sonnet , in which vulnerability is evoked as paralysis. At once logically relentless and emotionally centrifugal, Sonnet generates fears or vulnerability and self-disgust.
The strategies of the poem work to make the reader reveal or recognize his or her own compulsions and revulsions. Even in the seemingly most serene sonnets, there are inevitably dark shadows of insecurity and anxiety.
In Sonnet , for example, the argument is that a love that alters with time and circumstance is not a true, but a self-regarding love. The poem purports to define true love by negatives, but if those negatives are deliberately negated, the poem that emerges may be seen as the dark, repressed underside of the apparently unassailable affirmation of a mature, self-giving, other-directed love.
Such apparent affirmations may be acts of repression, an attempt to regiment the unrelenting unexpectedness and challenge of love. There are poems in the collection that, although less assertive, show a willingness to be vulnerable, to reevaluate constantly, to swear permanence within, not despite, transience—to be, in the words of Saint Paul, deceivers yet true. Elsewhere, part of the torture of the Dark Lady sonnets is that such a consolation does not emerge through the pain.
In short, what Sonnet represses is the acknowledgment that the only fulfillment worth having is one that is struggled for and that is independent of law or compulsion. The kind of creative fragility that it tries to marginalize is that evoked in the conclusion to Sonnet 49 when the poet admits his vulnerability: Lovers can affirm the authenticity of the erotic only by admitting the possibility that it is not absolute.
Love has no absolute legal, moral, or causal claims; nor, in the final analysis, can love acknowledge the bonds of law, family, or state—or if finally they are acknowledged, it is because they grow from love itself. Love moves by its own internal dynamic; it is not motivated by a series of external compulsions. Ultimately it asks from the lover the nolo contendere of commitment: Do with me what you will.
With Shakespeare's work, anyone — young or adult and male or female — can learn the most important lessons of life. Ethical actions, good deeds, principles, philosophies and many more are all incorporated in each of Shakespeare's work.
That is why in every Shakespeare essay writing activities of the students, they will need to read carefully the particular literary artwork, analyze every meaning of the words, read between the lines and get a firm grasp of what Shakespeare wanted to impart to its readers. William Shakespeare seemed to know exactly how to appreciate beauty, human life and of course, love. It can be realized in all of his writings that he could find all the good side of anything and everything.
Thus, if the teachers would be asking the students — high school or university students — to make a Shakespeare essay, it would just mean that the students must be able to really understand the essence of life, love and beauty. Shakespeare was able to produce not only poems or essay, but he also has a number of novels and plays which were all considered great by all literary analysts.
Often the Shakespeare essay writing tasks that teachers will give to the students will include analyzing at least one of Shakespeare's poems, essays, novels or plays. This is to assess the students' level of awareness or understanding on the different qualities of each literary style. But, because Shakespeare's works are all so good and sometimes complex, it has always been a big challenge for the students to comply with the Shakespeare essay writing tasks.
Let's face it, William Shakespeare is a genius in this field of literary writing. Not every student could easily comprehend his works. Not all students have the ability to write about his works, analyze, appreciate or even more - criticize it.
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Making the Shakespeare essay is quite tasking. One has to read the literary material first and then re-read it again and again just to grasp every highlights of the material. And because there are other activities or assignments that students need to work on everyday, their tendency is to set aside the Shakespeare essay writing tasks and prioritize other things.
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Shakespeare Essays, Articles and Book Excerpts Please also see the plays, sonnets and biography home pages for extensive essays and resources. Essays on the Plays Essays on the Sonnets and Poems Essays on Shakespeare's Life.
One of William Shakespeare’s great advantages as a writer was that, as a dramatist working in the public theater, he was afforded a degree of autonomy from the cultural dominance of the court, his age’s most powerful institution.
Free william shakespeare papers, essays, and research papers. William Shakespeare Essay Words | 5 Pages. William Shakespeare On April 26, , John Shakespeare's son, William, was baptized at the Stratford Parish Church. No one knows for certain when his birthday was. (Brown 22) It was thought that young Shakespeare began attending school at .
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