Shakespeare's Sonnet 138 Essay

Pages: 3 (933 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature

¶ … Shakespeare's Sonnet 138

The sonnet is one of the most rigid poetic forms to be commonly used, and William Shakespeare is one of the undisputed masters of the English sonnet. He was far from the first poet to achieve greatness in this form, however; he was not even the first Englishman to popularize the form. The sonnet had, in fact, been in England since 1590, and in Italy for many centuries before that (Riverside 1840). Few poets of any language or era, however, have achieved the blend of musicality and emotion with the physical rigidity and intellectual complexity and playfulness of the sonnet to the degree that Shakespeare has. He also popularized the English sonnet form -- also known as the Shakespearean sonnet -- as opposed to the Italian, or Petrarachan sonnet, and though these differences were not especially extreme by some measures, the differences in versification, and thus in prosody and rhetoric, are clearly observable.

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Both English and Italian sonnets contain fourteen lines of iambic pentameter (five sets of feet where each foot consists of an unstressed syllable followed by a stress syllable). In Italian sonnets, these lines are arranged in an opening octet (eight lines), with a "volta" or turn in the ninth line that signals the beginning of the sestet, the closing six lines of the poem. In the English sonnet, the construction is changed in ways that make it at once more simple and more complex. Instead of an octet and sestet, the lines in an English sonnet are divided into three quatrains of four lines each and a closing couplet, and "with three exceptions, (99, 126, and 145), Shakespeare uses the sonnet in [this] popular English form" (Riverside 1840). This shift in the versification creates a much different rhyme and rhetorical pattern as well, which effects the overall meaning and musicality of the sonnet, as Shakespeare's Sonnet 138 clearly demonstrates.

TOPIC: Essay on Shakespeare's Sonnet 138 the Sonnet Is One Assignment

The versification of this sonnet lends the poem a certain pace, and the feeling of receiving discrete chunks of poetic information. The meter is completely regular except for one line, giving the feeling of extreme regularity and the building and communication of a very logical and precise argument. The one line of broken meter, "Simply I credit her false-speaking tongue," has an inverted first foot (the "sim-" is stressed, the "ply" unstressed), and this seems to mirror the meaning of the line, as the speaker makes an allowance for falsehood just as the line makes an allowance for improper meter (line 7). The division of the quatrains and the final couplet also allows for the very logical progression and conclusion of an argument, as will be explored further when discussing rhetoric. The versification also demands a different rhyme scheme and alters other aspects of prosody, which influence the overall… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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"Shakespeare's Sonnet 138."  Essaytown.com.  September 28, 2009.  Accessed December 5, 2021.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/shakespeare-sonnet-138-one/201260.