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A Comparison of Shakespeare's Sonnets 29 and 71

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Introduction

Melancholy With a Twist: A Comparison of Shakespeare's Sonnet 29 and Sonnet 71 The imagery used in sonnet 29 mirrors the path the poet's mind takes, while in sonnet 71 it graphically describes the poet's death. At the start of sonnet 29 we can see the poet "in these thoughts", almost despising himself, there is not much imagery but the consistency of the poet's self criticism gives us the image of a seriously unhappy man. However, after the third quatrain the sonnet changes direction, and we can see there is still hope for the poet - in the form of his beloved. Just thinking of this special person makes his state, "Like to the lark at break of day arising/From sullen earth", improve suddenly. And like the break of day, the poem lightens up, with a happy ending where the poet writes "I scorn to change my state with kings". In sonnet 71, the image of the poet's death is constantly repeated, in ways like "Give warning to the world that I am fled/From this vile world, with vilest worms to dwell". ...read more.

Middle

This makes me think of a sighing sound, which compliments the content of the first quatrain. This consonance on the letter s continues for the whole sonnet nearly, with outcast, state, bootless, cries, myself and curse in the same quatrain plus many more like desiring, thoughts, despising, etc. These 's' sounds add to the sadness of the poem, and so it is natural that by the third quatrain, when the poem begins to light up, the 's' sounds are complimented by the 'l' sounds in like and lark. This alliteration sounds musical, and makes the quatrain feel happier. While in sonnet 29 the 's' sound is repeated throughout the sonnet, in sonnet 71 there is a different alliteration in each line of the first quatrain, for example "mourn for me", "surly sullen bell" and "vile world with vilest worms". In the second quatrain the tone softens, with the repetition of the 'th' sound like in the words thoughts, thinking and then. The rest of the sonnet continues with constant alliteration on nearly every line, eg. "compounded with clay" or "let your love with life decay". ...read more.

Conclusion

These of these sonnets have similar imagery, structure, sound and diction. However, both have many little things that make the poem unique. Whether it is the fact that there is more imagery for what the poet is feeling than real images, or different alliteration, or even a different change in message, the poems feel very different from each other. They both start off with a negative tone, using negative diction and sound, but while sonnet 29 gives us a happier feeling, sonnet 71 just compounds it with the couplet, as you see what the real message. For me, it even sounds a little scary that the whole 'wise world' will mock the poem's subject just for mourning Shakespeare's death. However, the way the poem is written it just sounds fairly sad. Shakespeare appears to be an expert at making you feel like he does, and it is fairly obvious how his work lasted as long as it did, if it can make me feel the same way he did nearly 400 years later. It shows just how transcendant his work is, changing how I think through both time and location. ...read more.

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