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Shakespeare’s Sonnets

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an English poet, dramatist, and actor, considered by many to be the greatest dramatist of all time. Some of Shakespeare’s plays, such as Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet, are the most famous of his works. His sonnets were not as admired as his tragedies; however, they seem to be a “mirror” of his private life. Shakespeare was born in late April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. First sonnets were published by John Benson in 1640, much later than Shakespeares other works.

The Renaissance had a great influence on Shakespeare’s lyrics, and his sonnets were written in traditional style, which was common in the XVII century. Like all other pieces of Art, Shakespeare’s sonnets have different phases. Initially, the most understandable, is the plot. Consequently, after reading the sonnets, one can find out the “emotional plot” in which feelings, such as, for instance, love, or even passion between two men, take place.

A woman, who is a favourite of Shakespeares beloved, later destroys the idyllic relationship. If we compare the relationships, it is not difficult to see that for Shakespeare love of his friend is more important. Sonnet 20 is a fascinating masterpiece: not only because it tells about how beautiful can love, in its all appearances, be: it seems to show that love is only culturally bounded aspect, and it still can be romantic, even if the relationship is not between man and woman. It has also caused much debate.

Some researchers believe that this is a clear admission of Shakespeare’s homosexuality, other see it only in its platonic appearance. This sonnet is written in English (often also called Shakespearean) format and which has the rhyme scheme of a-b-a-b-c-d-c-d-e-f-e-f-g-g. It has three quatrains, four-line stanzas, and ends with a couplet, a two-line stanza. The sonnet follows the iambic pentameter. The sonnet begins with lines A womans face with Natures own hand painted/ Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion.

These words give the sonnet a very picturesque tone. Shakespeares figurative language and his metaphors are unique: in this case, nature is compared to an artist. The words master-mistress gives us to understand that the writer is talking about a man, not a woman. This was an important cultural feature: the new form of Platonism, so called Neo-Platonism, had influenced poetry of that time, so it is too one-dimensional and naive to say that Shakespeare was attracted to men.

He was, in my opinion, attracted to the beauty: it did not have to be just physical. It can be understood as a beauty of a soul. I was very glad that I chose this subject: I have always liked Shakespeares works, and I always wanted to see his works from different view angels, from which psychological is the most important. Only after reading his sonnets, I can say that I know something about Shakespeare.

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