Free Essays On Shakespeare's Sonnet 5

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Analysis of Sonnet 5

 

Those hours that with gentle work did frame

The lovely gaze where every eye doth dwell

Will play the tyrants to the very same,

And that unfair which fairly doth excel:

For never-resting time leads summer on

To hideous winter and confounds him there,

Sap check'd with frost, and lusty leaves quite gone,

Beauty o'ersnow'd and bareness everywhere:

Then were not summer's distillation left

A liquid prisoner pent in walls of glass,

Beauty's effect with beauty were bereft,

Nor ir nor no remembrance what it was.

But flowers distill'd, though they with winter meet,

Leese but their show: their substance still lives sweet.

 

 

This sonnet is fairly easy to read and understand, but there are a few subtle ways Shakespeare makes it more interesting. First, the "which" in line 4 seems to mean "that", but a pun arises when read aloud allowing "witch" to be replaced. This is definitley an option when referring to "Those hours," significant of time, as seeing time as a witch. Shakespeare does not hold time in such high regard, and therefore we get a slightly altered reading of line 4: 'and that unfair witch hastens your increasing age by fair means'. In this reading, time is both fair and unfair, much recieved as a child getting his deserved punishment. 5-6: '"Never-resting time" always forces summer into winter, where summer is unhappily detained'; 7-8: 'Where,the sap is encroached with frost, and the leaves of the tree have vanished, beauty being overly-covered and barren everywhere:'. 9-12: 'At that time summer was remembered through perfumes, (but) beauty's effect [the scent] was subsided through the perfumes [the scent is there, but the aesthetics are gone], and there was no remembrance what it really was'.

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13-14: 'But flowers made into perfume, even being destroyed by winter, lose only their appearance: (because) their fragrance is just as odorous as when they were alive'. An effective way, (or not, depending on whether the man produced any children), to communicate his sentiments, Shakespeare uses nature in this sonnet to convince the man to bear children by saying his offspring will be the same as him, just as "sweet".

 


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