• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Consider the sonnet as a verse form. With examples compare the Petrarchan and Shakespearean sonnets and show developments in this form to the twentieth century.

Extracts from this document...


Lara Finnegan 20th January 2000 Consider the sonnet as a verse form. With examples compare the Petrarchan and Shakespearean sonnets and show developments in this form to the twentieth century. The first sonnets were written by a Sicilian lawyer named Giacomo da Lentino, during the first part of the thirteenth century. The form soon became very popular and was publicised through the works of many well-known Italian poets, such as Cavalcanti, Dante and Petrarch, thus becoming known as the Petrarchan sonnet form. It soon spread through Europe and finally to England during the sixteenth century, through Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, who developed it slightly. Soon after, Shakespeare realised the limitations of such a strict format and therefore developed and changed it further, creating the Shakespearean form. However, not everyone agreed with his indifference towards tradition; John Milton and Wordsworth soon reverted to the strictly disciplined Petrarchan form again, preferring it to the relatively 'free and easy' style of Shakespeare. Through time, many poets have experimented with different styles and techniques, and by the twentieth century, writers such as Elizabeth Jennings wrote such undisciplined poetry that it could only be recognised as a sonnet by the fourteen lines. The word 'sonnet' comes from the Italian word sonnetto, meaning 'little sound' or 'song,' and the standard form consists of fourteen lines and a strict but variable rhyme scheme. ...read more.


that the sonnet will be a comparison between his lover and summertime. He then says how his lover is "more lovely and more temperate" than summer, and points out that it has many imperfections and only lasts for a very short time. This idea is explored more fully in the second quatrain. Shakespeare points out the negative aspects of summer, such as, "Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines," giving us the general impression that there is hardly ever a day when some variable is not quite right. In the third quatrain there is a shift in focus, showing the Petrarchan turn of thought after the octave. Shakespeare says that his lover is better than summer, because his beauty is constant, and can defeat time because it is immortal, as we see where it says, "Nor shall death brag thou wandr'st in his shade." This poses the question: how can his beauty be made immortal? Our answer is found in the rhyming couplet at the end: "So long as men can breath or eyes can see. So long lives this, and this gives life to thee." Another example of the Shakespearean form is sonnet CXVI - "Let me not." This sonnet, unlike earlier ones, is not written for or about anybody. ...read more.


Even the content is not what one would expect from a Petrarchan or Shakespearean sonnet - the sonnet is about ghosts instead of change, love or time. We can tell that it is a sonnet, however, by the fact that it has fourteen lines. "Ghosts" is a poem about Elizabeth Jennings' ideas concerning why ghosts haunt houses and what they do. The first line states that ghosts "those houses haunt in which we leave/ Something undone," meaning that they only haunt places where life has been unsatisfactory or incomplete. She claims that ghosts are not recognised by the people they haunt, as we see where it says, "Ghosts do not haunt with any face/ That we have known." They also "thrust at us/ Our own omissions," meaning that they point out the things that we have not done in our lives, but perhaps should have. Everything that we could not bring ourselves to admit, do or say, they make us recognise and 'face up to.' The sonnet has been changed and developed a great deal since its first construction in Italy. Many sonneteers had something to contribute to this development, among them Thomas Wyatt, the Earl of Surrey, Shakespeare, John Milton, and twentieth century writers such as Elizabeth Jennings. The original octave and sestet of the Petrarchan form were changed to three quatrains and a rhyming couplet, content and the number of syllables in each line were changed, and the only variable that stayed constant throughout history was the fourteen lines. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Sonnets section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Sonnets essays

  1. Critical Appreciation of "Since There's No Help" By Michael Drayton.

    Drayton describes how "Faith is kneeling by his bed of death". This suggests that his experience with this woman has shaken his faith in God. Drayton lived in a time of great religious upheaval and this contextual suggestion, is not altogether surprising.

  2. Are there any ways in which you consider that experiences conveyed by the sonnets, ...

    'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day' is about the beauty Shakespeare sees in a certain person, the other sonnet, 'Let me not to the marriage of true minds' conveys the theme of true love. Whereas the post-20th century sonnet 'They say I should not wait about your street'

  1. Sonnets. There are three different types of sonnets, Petrarchan, Shakespearian and Spenserian, and they ...

    do, as if it would be what his daughter would want him to be doing for him to never experience happiness again. In 'Remember' Rossetti says that she would rather people forget and be happy and to enjoy them selves rather than to remember and have a frown upon their

  2. The Sonnet

    Another Shakespeare sonnet is 'Let Me Not', which shows how Shakespeare believes in the strength of true love. In the first two lines 'Let me not to the marriage of true mindes Admit impediments, love is not love.' He uses words from the marriage service to emphasise his claim that

  1. Sonnets. One of Shakespeares most famous sonnets is his Sonnet No. 18 Shall I ...

    He is saying that as long as this sonnet is read it will give life to his lover. He is claiming that this sonnet will be read by future generations, as its quality is superb. But what makes the boast so great is that it has come true and is still read centuries later.

  2. Shakespeare's sonnets 18, 130 and 131. These 3 sonnets have very different messages and ...

    "Some say"- alliteration is used to make the writing flow and have a memorable feel.

  1. Compare how the conventions of the sonnet

    Each quatrain begins with either the phrase 'thou mayest in me behold' or 'In me thou seest' these phrases reveal the speakers awareness of the aging process occurring within his body. Combined with the use of figurative language he compares this aging process to the three natural occurrences of nature, shown in each quatrain.

  2. Analysis of Sheakespeare's Sonnet 73 "That time of year thou mayst in me behold"

    This is also the part of the poem that would offer the interpretation that the poem focuses not on his literal death but just the death of his youth. This is because he doesn?t literally bring up death, as he does in the second quatrain, but just the termination of the flame of his vitality.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work