We are analysing a number of different sonnets. We will be analysing sonnet 18, 130, 55 by William Shakespeare and ‘Strugnells sonnet’ by Wendy Cope. Imagery is the ‘picture’ that is created in a readers mind when reading a piece of writing. In both of the sonnets 18/130 the imagery deployed is Nature. The writer uses nature imagery to define his subject to the reader.
For example in 18, the imagery is very positive towards the lover. He uses words such as ‘Thou art more lovely and more temperate’. He aims to flatter the lover through creating a very positive impression. But in 130 it is the total opposite. Negative comments are made towards the mistress from the very first line e.g. ‘My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun’. This is parallelism because in both of the opening lines of 18 and 130 the imagery of sun is deployed. In 18 it is deployed to flatter the lover. But in 130 it is used to show the real person the mistress is.Order now
In the opening of 130 it says ‘My Mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun’. The imagery in 18 is based around a summer’s day which is used in the opening line, unlike in 130 which is disparate. The thematic connections in 130 are much looser, but the majority is connected as natural objects. But something unusual is used in 130. ‘wires’ is used towards the end of the first quatrain. This is a man-made object and is unusually used in a sonnet deploying imagery of nature. The word ‘wires’ is now an archaic term that has changed meaning since the 1600’s. It used to mean a strand of gold to form a necklace.
Some of the imagery used in 130 was thought to be unfashionable in the 1600’s. For example in the sonnet his mistress has dark skin instead of pale which was fashionable in the 1600’s. It is as if the mistress’ looks are unfashionable â€“ e.g. ‘But no such roses see I in her cheeks’. Nowadays most people prefer tanned skin over pale skin. 130 is very negative throughout the sonnet. He implies that his mistress has very dull eyes and also uses the possessive word ‘my’ when talking about his mistress implying that he owns her. In the opening line of 18 a rhetorical question is used ‘Shall I compare thee to a summers day?’ and in the opening line of 130, a simile is used ‘My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun’.
These are two different rhetorical devices used in the Sonnets. 18 and 130 are two very different poems. 18 uses positive lexis to ‘compare thee to a summer’s day’. In the second line Shakespeare writes ‘more lovely’ and ‘more temperate’. This is further use of parallelism. Then in the first line of the second quatrain an extremity ‘too’ is used. The use of all these words, shows how positive this poem is,
Unlike 130 which uses negative terms to describe the mistress.
In the last two lines of the opening quatrain parallelism is used. A unique sentence structure, in only two lines throughout the sonnet, is used. The lines both start with ‘If’ conditionals and the things it says are still negative linking in with the rest of the sonnet. Towards the end of 130, there is a change in the sonnet. The writer says ‘I love to hear her speak’. This line may change the whole meaning of the sonnet. If the mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun it doesn’t mean that they are black does it? In most sonnets, the features iambic pentameter and alternate end-rhyme are used. The end rhyme pattern is also used in both of the sonnets.
A B A B C D C D E G E G F F
In both 18/130 alternate end-rhyme is used. But in 130 the end-rhyme is used to show the negative features of the Mistress.
For example ‘My Mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sunâ€¦’
‘If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun’.
It comes as a surprise to the reader because they usually stereotype sonnets as being love poems. So this would come as a shock because it goes against the expectations of sonnets.
Both the poems use iambic pentameter, but something unusual is used in one line of 130. In line 13 of 130 11 syllables are used. The reader may not notice this, but it is used for a reason. It is used to emphasise an idea that the ‘voice’ has that the Mistress may not be like all the other women but she is ‘rare’. She is not ugly but is unique and special.
Towards the end of 18 monosyllables are used to emphasize the importance of the couplet. The couplet means that as long as people read 18 it will ‘live’ forever. ‘So long lives this and this gives life to thee’.
The conclusion I give is that 18 uses the Sonnet tradition to show the pure qualities of his lover through hyperbole. But when this concept is used in 130 the mistress seems unattractive.
The sonnet tradition as a whole can be summed up in two points.
1. The main theme is love, but they all have different ways of expressing this love.
2. The sonnet will be immortalised
All of the sonnets we are analysing show signs of the first point, but in 18 and 55 they are expressed more clearly. Also in sonnets 18 and 55 the second point is emphasised throughout. But in 130 and Strugnells, it is suggested that a traditional sonnet is an ineffective love poem.
In sonnet 130, when Shakespeare writes using the sonnet tradition, the Mistress seems hideous. ‘My Mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;’ Sonnets 18 and 55 are said to be the archetypal sonnets. This is because they bothexpress the one of the two points very clearly. another concept is used to say that the poem will last so long it will immortalize the lover. Sonnet 55 shows the second point throughout the poem with very strong imagery. ‘Not marble nor the gilded monuments / Of princes shall outlive this powr’ful rhyme,’ ‘That wear this world out to the ending doom/So, till the judgment that yourself arise’. Stone was said to be everlasting. The voice is saying that the Sonnet will last longer than stone and will even last till judgement day- the end of the world.
Strugnells sonnet is a parody of sonnet 55. This can be proven by direct echoes of sonnet 55 in the first 3 words of Strugnells sonnet. SS’Not only marble’/55’Not marble nor’. Strugnells sonnet is saying that sonnets don’t last forever. In fact they don’t even last longer than ‘the plastic toys/From cornflake packets,’ ‘I cannot immortalise youâ€¦’ Although this is the point of view of the imaginary writer Wendy Cope has invented Strugnell it seems ironic because he has wrote a sonnet based on a 400 year old sonnet. In a way it is true because modern day we don’t accept hyperbole. If a man was trying to impress a woman he wouldn’t go up to her and recite sonnet 18 because she would probably laugh in his face. Nowadays love is feelings are expressed differently than the era of courtly love in which Shakespeare’s sonnets were wrote.