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Discuss similes and metaphors in Shakespeare Sonnets: Sonnet 116, Sonnet 130, Sonnet...

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misssbooo | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted November 4, 2011 at 3:04 AM via web

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Discuss similes and metaphors in Shakespeare Sonnets: Sonnet 116, Sonnet 130, Sonnet 18, and Sonnet 29- "When in Disgrace with Fortune and Men's Eyes"

Sonnet 116- “Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds”, Sonnet 130- “My Mistress Eye’s”, Sonnet 18- “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day” and Sonnet 29- "When in Disgrace with Fortune and Men's Eyes"

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted November 4, 2011 at 5:15 AM (Answer #1)

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At the outset, let me restate the difference between these two terms: metaphor is comparing two traits or items with some similar qualities (but not identical); simile is a kind of metaphor, one that uses “like” or “as” to make the comparison.  The term “figure of speech” covers many devices available to stretch the language past literal meaning.  Take, as just one example, personification (“the sun smiled on me"), in which a nonhuman object takes on human characterizations.  

 Sonnet 116 compares unmoving, constant things—an ever-fixed mark, a star, etc.--to the “marriage of true minds,” meaning that it does not change when circumstances change..

 Sonnet 130 uses simile (directly using “like”) to enumerate a list of “false comparisons,” exaggerations usually found in false lover’s descriptions, to stress his sincerety in contrast to the superficiality of her “false compare.  Shakespeare cleverly criticizes metaphor and its users by exposing its exaggerations to contrast with his understated “rare” love.

 In Sonnet 18 he uses the opposite strategy, finding imperfections in the comparisons that are ready to hand by mediocre lovers.  He objects to standard metaphors because they are all imperfect, and his lover is not.

In Sonnet 29, not till line 10 “and then my state/Like to the lark arising…” does a direct comparison (simile) appear.  The majority of the poem is a description of his dissatisfied state, ameliorated by remembering his “sweet love.”

 

 

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