Type: Literary Analysis
Pages: 3 | Words: 609
Reading Time: 3 Minutes

“Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?” is one of the most outstanding sonnets by William Shakespeare. It is often called sonnet 18 belonging to 154 best-known works by the remarkable poet. The interesting topic about the poem is that now the majority of scholars believe that it is addressed not to a woman as can be easily supposed from the pronouns, but to a man. The sonnet is described as the Procreation sonnet which argues over the young man’s way of life which is thought to have to be the father of the children, thus, the procreating being. Sonnets of this type usually referred to the homosexual relationship as opposed to the heterosexual one which often results in procreation. On the other hand, such theory is not proved therefore, the sonnet may still be dedicated to a woman.

“Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?” is a romantic tribute to tender love. The author compares his mistress to beautiful summer, stating that the mistress is more beautiful. Shakespeare believes that the mistress will obtain eternal life by means of the words of his poem. The sonnet starts with a complimenting question ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’ As it is common for people in love, the speaker finds his mistress ‘more lovely and more temperate’ than even a hot summer day. Moreover, the author tries to emphasize on the unique beauty of his mistress by adding some negative features to the summer season – ‘summer’s lease hath all too short a date’ and the warmness of the sun frequently turns into scorching heat which becomes unbearable – everything is good which is moderate: Even too much pleasure can cause a lot of harm.

William Shakespeare does not provide any specific details about his mistress. All the reader can understand is that his beloved’s beauty is made eternal by the poem which can be read over and over again. This quality, however, is not real and cannot be referred to any human being, existing only within the confines of the sonnet’s words.

In addition, there are hypotheses that the poem is not a love sonnet at all, as physical beauty is frequently taken into consideration in such verses. There are no physical characteristics at all in Shakespeare’s work: The reader has no clue about eyes, hair, or personality, etc. The poem is more like self-glorification expression which does not mention a drop of mutual love, more an egotistic praise.

“Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?” has many ambiguous meanings in the choice of word, too. For example, the word ‘complexion’ in the sixth line may mean the inner expression which is shaded like a cloudy day, thus, the mistress does not feel good, or it may mean just an external appearance like ‘the eye of heaven’. The second interesting word is ‘untrimmed’ which may refer to the opposite notions: The untrimmed ship sails mean the constant change of the nature which cannot be stopped just like the untrimmed sails of the ship which cannot distinguish a proper course of the vessel and it flows randomly from one spot to another. On the other hand, the word may point out at the loss of beauty of life, hinting that beauty is eternal only in the poem, however, in reality it fades until the complete perish.

William Shakespeare’s “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?” is a simple but still quite complicated piece of work which tackles ever-lasting worries and sorrows of people: How to live forever, be young and beautiful, still recognizing that real beauty should stem out from the heart as only there it can reach eternity.

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