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Shakespearean Sonnets Where they came from, what they are, and how we break them apart.

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Presentation on theme: "Shakespearean Sonnets Where they came from, what they are, and how we break them apart."— Presentation transcript:

1 Shakespearean Sonnets Where they came from, what they are, and how we break them apart.

2 Agenda Origin of Shakespeare’s Sonnets Cultural Use of Sonnets Shakespeare’s Individuality Petrarch v. Shakespeare Petrarchan Structure Shakespearean Structure

3 CULTURAL CONTEXT Where did the sonnet come from?

4 Origin of Shakespeare’s Sonnets Sonnet first created in 13 th century Italy 100 years later, Petrarch redefines sonnets Develops a specific structure (Petrarchan Sonnet) All chronicle his passionate, complex emotions for “Laura” This point on, all sonnets focus on “Courtly Love” and subsequent emotions: Jealousy, Desire, Lust, etc. Typically contain a conflict: Intellect v. emotion Restraint v. passion

5 Cultural Use of Sonnets 16 th century Britain, Petrarchan sonnets appear Wyatt and Surrey are first to make popular Modified the rhyme scheme—this structure used by Shakespeare We now call it the “Shakespearean Sonnet” Sonnets were “high society” Rigid structure, formal declarations of love/honor/etc. “High Society” begins to commission sonnets from poets Sonnet writing becomes lucrative Similar to modern-day songwriting or ghost writing

6 Shakespeare’s Individuality Shakespearean drama was typically anti “high society” constraints Plays have little restriction of language, content, etc. Shakespeare’s sonnets, however, perfectly conform Formal structure allows creative wordplay Turns content (“Courtly Love”) on its head New themes and conflicts: Tradition v. “new” love Challenges the traditional “unapproachable, exalted lady” Infuses homoerotic and adulterous passions Sonnets 1-126: idealized, painful love for femininely- beautiful, well-born male youth Sonnets : unidealized, ultimately bitter affair with a darkly attractive, unaristocratic “mistress”

7 PETRARCH V. SHAKESPEARE The evolution of structure (it’s important!)

8 Petrarchan Sonnets Milton! Thou shouldst be living at this hour: England hath need of thee: she is a fen Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen, Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower, Have forfeited their ancient English dower Of inward happiness. We are selfish men; Oh! raise us up, return to us again; And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power. Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart; Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free, So didst thou travel on life’s common way, In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart The lowliest duties on herself did lay. 14 Lines Octave--rigid rhyme abbaabba Sestet--flexible pattern cdecde Traditionally written in Iambic Pentameter

9 Petrarchan Sonnets Milton! Thou shouldst be living at this hour: England hath need of thee: she is a fen Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen, Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower, Have forfeited their ancient English dower Of inward happiness. We are selfish men; Oh! raise us up, return to us again; And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power. Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart; Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free, So didst thou travel on life’s common way, In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart The lowliest duties on herself did lay. Octave and Sestet have specific purposes Octave—express desire, problem Sestet—comment or solve problem “Volta” marks tone shift

10 Shakespearean Sonnets Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? 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. 14 Lines 3 Quatrains & Couplet abab cdcd efef gg Iambic Pentameter

11 Shakespearean Sonnets Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? 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. Quatrains Smaller groups Allows flexibility of ideas Logical order Contrasting theme/images Couplet Provides a “beat” Almost like poet comes to a sudden conclusion Add. Insight or thought


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