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mid-term paper

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mid-term paper

    English Literature Mid-term Paper

    班级:英语11-2

    姓名:王莉媛

    学号:110914211

    CONTENTS

    ABSTRACT ............................................................................................................................. 1

    WHAT IS THE SONNET? ....................................................................................................... 1 THE ANALYSIS OF SONNET 18 ............................................................................................ 1

    The rhyme...................................................................................................................... 1

    Paraphrase and Exegesis ............................................................................................ 2

    The theme ...................................................................................................................... 5

    The language ................................................................................................................ 6 COMPARE WITH CHINESE POEM ...................................................................................... 7 CONCLUSION ........................................................................................................................ 8 REFERENCES .................................................................................................................... 8

    Sonnet of Shakespeare

    Abstract

    William Shakespeare, a famous playwright and poet, had done a great contribution to the English literature, and his sonnets are widely read by people from all over the world. By analyzing the background of literature, this article concludes that the theme, rhyme and the features of language of sonnet 18. Now, let us step into the sonnet of Shakespeare, and start a miraculous journey to the ancient literature.

    Keywords: Shakespeare, sonnet, rhyme, theme, language

    What is the sonnet?

     A sonnet is a form of a poem that originated in Europe, mainly Italy. Up to now, there are hundreds of sonnets produced. They commonly contain 14 lines. The term sonnet derives from the Italian word “sonetto”, meaning “little song”. By the thirteenth century, it signified a poem of fourteen lines that follows a strict rhyme scheme and specific structure. Conventions associated with the sonnet have evolved over its history. Writers of sonnets are sometimes called “sonneteers”, although the term can be used derisively. One of the best-known sonnet writers is William Shakespeare, who wrote 154 of them and these sonnets are not including those that appear in his plays. A Shakespearean, or English, sonnet consists of 14 lines, each line containing ten syllables and written in iambic pentameter, in which a pattern of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable is repeated five times.

    The analysis of sonnet 18

    The rhyme

    The rhyme scheme in a Shakespearean sonnet is a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g, what is more, the last two lines are a rhyming couplet. Take sonnet 18 as an example.

    Sonnet 18

    Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

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    Thou art more lovely and more temperate;

    Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

    And summer's lease hath all too short a date;

    Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

    And often is his gold complexion dimmed;

    And every fair from fair sometime declines,

    By chance or nature's changing course untrimmed;

    But thy eternal summer shall not fade,

    Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;

    Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,

    When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:

    So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

    So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

    Let us see the last words of each line: day, temperate, may, date, shines, dimmed, declines, untrimmed, fade, ow’st, shade, grow’st, see, thee. We can easily find that is the rhyme of a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g. Also, there are alliteration and end rhyme, like the sixth and the seventh lines are both started with “and”.

    Traditionally, English poets employ iambic pentameter when writing sonnets, but I have to add that, not all English sonnets have the same metrical structure.

    For instance, the first sonnet in Sir Philip Sidney's sequence Astrophel and Stella has 12 syllables. It is iambic hexameters, albeit with a turned first foot in several lines. In the Romance languages, the hendecasyllable and Alexandrine are the most widely used.

    Paraphrase and Exegesis

    Shall I compare you to a summer’s day? You are lovelier and more moderate: Harsh winds disturb the delicate buds of May, and summer doesn’t last long enough. Sometimes the sun is too hot, and its golden face is often dimmed by clouds. All beautiful things eventually become less beautiful, either by the experiences of life or by the passing of time. But your eternal beauty won’t fade, nor lose any of its quality. And you will never die, as you will live on in my enduring poetry. As long as there are people still alive to read poems this sonnet will live, and you will live in it.

    1. Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

    2

     This is taken usually to mean What if I were to compare thee etc?'The

    stock comparisons of the loved one to all the beauteous things in nature hover in the background throughout. One also remembers Wordsworth's lines:

     We'll talk of sunshine and of song,

     And summer days when we were young,

     Sweet childish days which were as long

    As twenty days are now.

     Such reminiscences are indeed anachronistic, but with the recurrence of words such as summer, days, song, sweet, it is not difficult to see the permeating influence of the Sonnets on Wordsworth's verse.

     2. Thou more lovely and more temperate:

     The youth's beauty is more perfect than the beauty of a summer day, more temperate, more gentle, more restrained, whereas the summer's day might have violent excesses in store, such as are about to be described.

     3. Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

     May was a summer month in Shakespeare's time, because the calendar in use lagged behind the true sidereal calendar by at least a fortnight.

     Darling buds of May - the beautiful, much loved buds of the early summer

    s favorite flowers.

     4. And summer's lease hath all too short a date:

     Legal terminology. The summer holds a lease on part of the year, but the lease is too short, and has an early termination .

     5. Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

     Sometime = on occasion, sometimes;

     the eye of heaven = the sun.

     6. And often is his gold complexion dimmed,

     his gold complexion = his (the sun's) golden face. It would be dimmed by clouds and on overcast days generally.

     7. And every fair from fair sometime declines,

     All beautiful things (every fair) occasionally become inferior in comparison with their essential previous state of beauty (from fair). They all decline from perfection.

     8. By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed:

     By chance accidents, or by the fluctuating tides of nature, which are not

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subject to control, nature's changing course untrimmed.

     Untrimmed this can refer to the ballast (trimming) on a ship which keeps it stable; or to a lack of ornament and decoration. The greater difficulty however is to decide which noun this adjectival participle should modify. Does it refer to nature, or chance, or every fair in the line above, or to the effect of nature's changing course? KDJ adds a comma after course, which probably has the effect of directing the word towards all possible antecedents. She points out that nature's changing course could refer to women's monthly courses, or menstruation, in which case every fair in the previous line would refer to every fair woman, with the implication that the youth is free of this cyclical curse, and is therefore more perfect.

     9. But thy eternal summer shall not fade,

     Referring forwards to the eternity promised by the ever living poet in the next few lines, through his verse.

     10. Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,

     Nor shall it (your eternal summer) lose its hold on that beauty which you so richly possess. ow'st = ownest, possess.

     By metonymy we understand 'nor shall you lose any of your beauty'.

     11. Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade,

     Several half echoes here. The biblical ones are probably 'Oh death where is thy sting? Or grave thy victory?' implying that death normally boasts of his conquests over life. And Psalms 23.3.: 'Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil ' In classical literature the shades flitted helplessly in the underworld like gibbering ghosts. Shakespeare would have been familiar with this through Virgil's account of Aeneas' descent into the underworld in Aeneid Bk. VI.

     12. When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st,

     in eternal lines = in the undying lines of my verse. Perhaps with a reference to progeny, and lines of descent, but it seems that the procreation theme has already been abandoned.

     to time thou grow'st - you keep pace with time, you grow as time grows.

     13. So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,

     For as long as humans live and breathe upon the earth, for as long as there are seeing eyes on the eart.

     14. So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

     That is how long these verses will live, celebrating you, and continually renewing your life. But one is left with a slight residual feeling that perhaps the

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    youth's beauty will last no longer than a summer's day, despite the poet's proud boast.

    The theme

    Sonnet 18 is the best known and most well-loved of all 154 sonnets. It is also one of the most straightforward in language and intent. The stability of love and its power to immortalize the poetry and the subject of that poetry is the theme.

    The poet starts the praise of his dear friend without ostentation, but he slowly builds the image of his friend into that of a perfect being. His friend is first compared to summer in the octave, but, at the start of the third quatrain , he is summer, and thus, he has metamorphosed into the standard by which true beauty can and should be judged.

    Sonnet 18 deserves its fame because it is one of the most beautifully written verses in the English language. The sonnet’s endurance comes from Shakespeare’s ability to capture the essence of love so cleanly and succinctly.

    After much debate amongst scholars, it is now generally accepted that the subject of the poem is male. In 1640, a publisher called John Benson released a highly inaccurate edition of Shakespeare’s sonnets in which he edited out the young man,

    replacing “he with “she”.

    Benson’s revision was considered to be the standard text until 1780 when Edmond Malone returned to the 1690 quarto and re-edited the poems. Scholars soon realized that the first 126 sonnets were originally addressed to a young man sparking debates about Shakespeare’s sexuality. The nature of the relationship between the two men is highly ambiguous and it is often impossible to tell if Shakespeare is describing platonic love or erotic love.

    The poem carries the meaning of an Italian or Petrarchan Sonnet. Petrarchan sonnets typically discussed the love and beauty of a beloved, often an unattainable love, but not always. It also contains a volta, or shift in the poem's subject matter, beginning with the third quatrain.

    Iambic Pentameter of a line of Sonnet 18

    This is one of the most famous of all the sonnets, justifiably so. But it would be a mistake to take it entirely in isolation, for it links in with so many of the other sonnets through the themes of the descriptive power of verse; the ability of the poet to depict the fair youth adequately, or not; and the immortality conveyed through being hymned

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    in these 'eternal lines'. It is noticeable that here the poet is full of confidence that his verse will live as long as there are people drawing breath upon the earth, whereas later he apologises for his poor wit and his humble lines which are inadequate to encompass all the youth's excellence. Now, perhaps in the early days of his love, there is no such self-doubt and the eternal summer of the youth is preserved forever in the poet's lines. The poem also works at a rather curious level of achieving its objective through dispraise. The summer's day is found to be lacking in so many respects (too short, too hot, too rough, sometimes too dingy), but curiously enough one is left with the abiding impression that 'the lovely boy' is in fact like a summer's day at its best, fair, warm, sunny, temperate, one of the darling buds of May, and that all his beauty has been wonderfully highlighted by the comparison

    The language

    There are lot of figures of speech in the poem, like simile, rhetoric question, metaphor and personification, pun, hyperbole. The poem starts “Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?”it is the rhetoric question. The beloved is both “more lovely and more temperate” than a summer's day. “And summer's lease hath all too short a date” is the metaphor and “Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines” is personification. Pun is used in the sentence “And every fair from fair sometime declines”. Finally, the hyperbole is showed in the tenth sentence “nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade”. However, the beloved has beauty that will last forever, unlike the fleeting beauty of a summer's day. By putting his love's beauty into the form of poetry, the poet is preserving it forever. "So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee." The lover's beauty will live on, through the poem which will last as long as it can be read.

    What’s more, “complexion” in line six, can have two meanings: the first one is that outward appearance of the face as compared with the sun (“the eye of heaven”) in the previous line. The second one is the older sense of the word in relation to The four humors. In the time of Shakespeare, “complexion” carried both outward and inward meanings, as did the word “temperate” (externally, a weather condition; internally, a balance of humors). The second meaning of "complexion" would communicate that the beloved's inner, cheerful, and temperate disposition is sometimes blotted out like the sun on a cloudy day. The first meaning is more obvious, meaning of a negative

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change in his outward appearance.

    The word, “untrimmed” in line eight, can be taken two ways: First, in the sense

    of loss of decoration and frills, and second, in the sense of untrimmed sails on a ship. In the first interpretation, the poem reads that beautiful things naturally lose their fanciness over time. In the second, it reads that nature is a ship with sails not adjusted to wind changes in order to correct course. This, in combination with the words "nature's changing course", creates an oxymoron: the unchanging change of nature, or the fact that the only thing that does not change is change. This line in the poem creates a shift from the mutability of the first eight lines, into the eternity of the last six. Both change and eternity are then acknowledged and challenged by the final line.

    Ow'st” in line ten can also carry two meanings equally common at the time:

    “ownest” and “owest”. Many readers interpret it as “ownest”, as do many Shakespearean glosses ("owe" in Shakespeare's day, was sometimes used as a synonym for "own"). However, “owest” delivers an interesting view on the text. It conveys the idea that beauty is something borrowed from naturethat it must be paid

    back as time progresses. In this interpretation, “fair” can be a pun on “fare”, or the fare required by nature for life's journey. Other scholars have pointed out that this borrowing and lending theme within the poem is true of both nature and humanity. Summer, for example, is said to have a “lease” with “all too short a date.” This monetary theme is common in many of Shakespeare's sonnets, as it was an everyday theme in his budding capitalistic society.

    Compare with Chinese poem

     《声声慢》李清照

    寻寻觅觅,冷冷清清,凄凄惨惨戚戚。乍暖还寒时候,最难将息。三杯两盏

     淡酒,怎敌他、晚来风急;雁过也,正伤心,却是旧时相识。

    满地黄花堆积。憔悴损,如今有谁堪摘;守着窗儿,独自怎生得黑;梧桐更

    ! 兼细雨,到黄昏、点点滴滴。这次第,怎一个愁字了得

    There is also the rhyme just like“觅”“戚”“息”“急”“积”“滴”,and the tonal

    patterns in classical Chinese poetry is called level(平; and oblique (仄;tones. Let

    us see:

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    寻寻觅觅,冷冷清清,凄凄惨惨戚戚。

    平平仄仄,仄仄平平,平平仄仄仄仄。

    乍暖还寒时候,最难将息。

    仄仄平平平仄,仄平平仄。

    三杯两盏淡酒,怎敌他、晓来风急;

    平平仄仄仄仄,仄仄平、仄平平仄。

    雁过也,正伤心,却是旧时相识。

    仄仄仄,仄平平、仄仄仄平平仄。

    满地黄花堆积,憔悴损,如今有谁堪摘;

    仄仄平平平仄,平仄仄、平平仄平平仄。

    守著窗儿,独自怎生得黑;

    仄仄平平,仄仄仄平仄仄。

    梧桐更兼细雨,到黄昏、点点滴滴。

    平平仄平仄仄,仄平平、仄仄仄仄。

    这次第,怎一个愁字了得;

    仄仄仄,仄仄仄平仄仄仄。

    Except that the language is more euphemistic than sonnet 18the theme is more

    complicated. If we did not know the background and the Chinese culture at that period, we will not understand this easily.

    Conclusion

    Shakespeare has a magic pens, his works influence millions of people from 16th century till now, especially the sonnet. He turned his artistic gifts to character by becoming a poet. His poetry sounds forceful even it just contains a few lines. There are much more things in it. His excellent does not come alone, it comes with everything. Let the movement of his life has its rest in its own poet. And let us live as a poet.

    References

    Booth, Stephen (1977). Shakespeare's Sonnets. Yale University Press, New Haven.

    Dowden, Edward (1881). Shakespeare's Sonnets. London.

    Hubler, Edwin (1952). The Sense of Shakespeare's Sonnets. Princeton University

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