An Analysis of Sonnet 55 by William ShakespeareParaphrase of Sonnet 55Neither stone nor the gold-plated shrines of princes will outlive this strong poem. You will be highly regarded in these poems more than those stones that crumble to ash, over time. When war destroys the statues, and burns the buildings, neither the sword of Mars nor his scorching destruction with fire will erase this memory of you. Against death and those with hostility, your memory will live on.You shall proceed forward until the end of time; and those with wealth and good health will worship you. So until judgement day when your spirit rises, you will be admired in this poem as lovers linger.Theme and Tone of Sonnet 55The theme in William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 55,” highlights and uses the symbolism of intense feelings of love & war. This helps the author explain why the passion and love expressed for the subject of the sonnet will be everlasting. His love and admiration for him or her is so intense it will outlast all that is made and or destroyed by man. The subject’s feelings will not end, “…Nor war’s quick fire, shall burn the living record of your memory..” (7) Shakespeare is expressing to the reader that no form of destruction of things will ruin his love interest. Love is more eternal than marble and statue, never to be erased by war or man. The tone of the sonnet is one of unwavering strength and assuredness of the lasting memory of this person, not to be forgotten even in death.Poet’s Use of Language in Sonnet 55Shakespeare’s use of language creates vivid imagery through his descriptions of love and war. He writes of a “wasteful war” (5) that is full of “besmeared” (4) stone. His word choice of “marble” (1) is both beautiful and hard. A marble statue is beautiful, like his subject, but also a strong stone. However, this stone does break. Shakespeare also uses the word choice, “live” (14) and variations of it like, “outlive,” (2) in this poem to emphasize eternity. His word choices stress the significance of the stark contrasts between love and war. Connotations can be made from Shakespeare’s choice of words. The phrase, “Ending doom,” (12) causes the reader to feel afraid and depressed. On the other hand, the word choice, “In the eyes of all prosperity,” (11) gives the reader the feelings of wealth and comfort. Once again, Shakespeare chooses this imagery to display the extreme contrast between love and war. Shakespeare uses the metaphor, “But you shall shine more bright in these contents…” (3) to compare the subject to a bright light. This makes the poem more interesting. The reader will be able to see the subject in this image. Shakespeare also applies personification when referring to monuments that will not outlive his poem. The author wants the reader to relate this monument, symbolizing strength, to his poetry. Poet’s Use of Sound in Sonnet 55Sound in poetry helps the reader experience high levels of feelings, reaching more senses than occur without it. Shakespeare uses alliteration throughout the poem. For example, in the third line, he uses “shall shine” (3) when describing the subject. This causes the reader to focus on who the author is writing about. There is a rhythm to the poem that brings balance as one reads. Shakespeare also uses assonance to draw emphasis to certain text. For example, the line, “…Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme,” (2) he repeats the short “i” sound. This use of figurative language sets the mood of the poem. Syntax and Structure of Sonnet 55Sonnet 55 is written in the same method that Shakespeare wrote all of his poetry: Iambic Pentameter. This was the most popular method of writing poetry during this time period. In fact, all of Shakespeare’s Sonnets are written with the iambic pentameter. This method stresses the rhythm and rhyme patterns of the poem. The syntax in “Sonnet 55” is confusing. Shakespeare writes about doom, however, he then changes the tone to the subject’s imorality, “So, till the judgment that yourself arise.” (13) This change gives the reader hope. Overall, the structure of Sonnet 55 provides familiarity to the reader. The reader can depend on this structure which helps balance the deep emotions of this sonnet.
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