Cxliv Sonnet Analysis Essay

Critical Analysis On Sonnet 12, "Shakespeare's Sonnets", By William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare wrote a group of 154 sonnets between 1592 and 1597, which were compiled and published under the title Shakespeare's Sonnets in 1609. Our attention will focus on sonnet 12, a remarkable and poignant poem about the relentless passing of time, the fading beauty, immortality, death and Old Age, these subjects being typical of all Shakespeare's Sonnets.

Time is omnipresent in everyone's life, just passing and passing inexorably, relentlessly, so unstoppable. It is a universal problem : people have always been very worried about time, trying to gain some, or angry they have lost this precious element. Moreover, "Time is Money", maxim born in the business sector, is now an adage applied in all matter. But still, it is not possible to lose or gain time : it is above people, nobody has control on it. This is what Shakespeare tells us in this sonnet.

Shakespeare's sonnets don't have a specific title, only named by a number. Here, it is 12, and surely this number has not been given by chance, being a way to refer to time : the twelve hours of a day, the twelve hours of a night.

What is more, just by hearing it, without understanding the words, it is possible to guess that it is about time. Shakespeare has used an iambic pentametre, which the alternation of strong and weak rhythms reproduces the ticking of the clock, displaying the passing of time. Furthermore, the way in which the meaning of the line finishes with the line itself, with punctuation such as comma and semi-colon at the end of each line, is like the inexorable motion of a pendulum as it beats from side to side. The fact that each line contains ten syllables contributes as well to this idea of regularity and time. We should also mention the presence of alliterations like c and t line 1 (count, clock, that, tells, time), imitating the ticking of the clock, and the repetition of consonants like p line 3 (past, prime), or s and g line 7 (summer's, green, girded, sheaves), b line 8 (borne, bier, bristly, beard), without forgetting the sibilance line 11 (since, sweets, beauties, themselves, forsake). These alliterations slow down the sonnet and give it a measured rhythm, drawing the reader in an infernal cycle, in a lethargic state.

We can observe the way the subject is developed by looking at the two main phases in this sonnet : the first eight lines are a phase of observation, study : we perceive how nature fades and dies, how time passes, as nothing can be done against it. But then, in the second part, Shakespeare opens up his past observation - that was on nature - in an examination based on humans. Nevertheless, these two phases are very similar, offering the same message to the reader : time is devastating and invincible.

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