Sonnet 18 and self-gratification

Sonnet 18 stuck out to me because I remember learning about Shakespeare and this sonnet when I was younger, and I thought it was so beautifully written, but I don’t think I had understood the meaning. Sonnet 18 is the most well-known and most liked out of all 154 sonnets. Shakespeare often wrote about themes like time and love. Although at first glance this may seem like a love poem, it is not; its theme is the stability of love and its power. The sonnet begins sounding like your typical love poem, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate…” However, Shakespeare then goes on to basically say my words will keep you beautiful, life won’t. The sonnet is not a love poem at all— it’s self-gratification. Shakespeare writes, “Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,” meaning ‘nor will death brag and claim you for his own’. However, Shakespeare is bragging about his own writing. In most writing at the time, the woman was glorified and discussed almost as if she was God-like. Most writers at the time talked about their golden hair, skin as fair as snow, etc. but in this poem, you do not hear about her hair, skin, eyes— nothing. You hear about William Shakespeare’s “eternal lines.”

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