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What is love? Compare and contrast Shakespeare's presentation of it's paradox in sonnets 116 and 147.

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Sonnet Coursework Task:- What is love? Compare and contrast Shakespeare's presentation of it's paradox in sonnets 116 and 147. Shakespeare was born in 1564 on the 23rd of April the same date he died 52 years later. But it was only in 1590's when he started to write sonnets. He mainly wrote them during the plague as all the theatres were closed. (1592) Sonnets are lyrical poems of 14 lines with a formal rhyme scheme, expressing different aspects of a single thought, mood, or feeling, resolved or summed up in the last lines of the poem. Sonnets are generally composed in the standard metre of the language in which they are written - in English this is iambic pentameter. The there are two main forms of sonnet but these two (sonnet 116 and 147) are both written in Shakespearean form of abab, cdcd, efef, gg. Shakespeare's sonnets unlike the Italian (petrarchan) form are not structured as an octave (8 lines) followed by a sestet (6 lines) but as 3 quatrains and a rhyming couplet. Yet the first 8 lines of Shakespeare's sonnets still introduce the argument and the final lines conclude it. Within each quatrain lines 1 and 3 would rhyme as would lines 2 and 4, this continued for all 3 quatrains and the final two lines would rhyme. ...read more.


Shakespeare reversed the rhythm for uneasy effect and wrote about many emotions - love, fear, loss, death and jealousy. He later had a theatre in London which became the theatre capital of the world, he was the first playwright to grow rich by writing and he didn't avoid "dirt" in life. He also taught us companionship for others and our selves. In 1611- 1613 Shakespeare stopped writing mysteriously and returned to Stratford and the globe was destroyed by fire in 1613. Shakespeare died in 1616 from heavy drinking and fever, - never recovered, he neglected his self and work and unfortunately only ever saw half his plays published in his life-time but the rest of them appeared in 1623. He had only ever had three portraits of himself but still became a national icon by the 18th century. Sonnet 116 is a tightly structured argument of an ideal of love. It is famous beyond its role in the sonnets. It is often read at marriage ceremonies in the belief it celebrates ideal love. A turn of Volta is evident in "if" (116, 13). The sonnet is opened with the idea that the union of two "true" (116, 1), honest, faithful and genuine, people will not find "impediments" (116, 2), obstacles, to defect their love. This idea is followed with a statement that is very confident. ...read more.


This lexical set contains "disease"(147,2), "sickly"(147,4), "physician"(147,5), "prescriptions"(147,6) and "death"(147,8). The persona is "desperate" (147, 7) and stops caring as he believes he is "past care" (147, 9). The result of these feelings is seen as madness with "unrest" (147, 10), eternal torment, and that it is unrelated and different, "At random" (147, 12) to truth and reality that are "vainly expressed" (147, 12), foolishly spoken. The turn of Volta is evident by "for" (147, 13). His vows "I have sworn thee fair" (147, 13) make the disillusion suffered worse. There is also a huge disappointment apparent as he speaks directly to the loved one, dark lady, and tells her he once thought she was "bright" (147, 13) and "fair" (147, 13), but now he believes her to be "dark as hell" (147, 14) and "dark as night" (147, 14) which is again a simile. Both the sonnets have the idea of never ending love; sonnet 116 infers this by the phrase "Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks," (116, 11) while sonnet 147 conveys this with the phrases ", longing still" and "longer nurseth" (147, 1 and 2). Both sonnets also talk about love changing "bends with the remover to remove" (116, 4) and "Th'uncertain" (147, 4). In sonnet 147 love is compared to a disease "fever", "disease", "sickly appetite", "physician", "prescriptions" whereas in sonnet 116 love is painted as a more positive picture of love with it's "rosy lips and cheeks". ...read more.

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