Homework Help

 How does the speaker in Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18" answer his own question?The speaker...

user profile pic

chychy | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 2, 2011 at 4:53 AM via web

dislike 1 like

 How does the speaker in Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18" answer his own question?

The speaker opens the sonnet by wondering if he should compare his beloved to a summer’s day.

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 2, 2011 at 5:12 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

The speaker first asks if he shall compare the person he loves (thee) with a summer’s day. He then does just that. It is almost like he is saying “I will now compare thee to a summer’s day.” By starting the sonnet with a question, he invokes a sense of respect to the person he is speaking about. He may be alone and just speaking rhetorically. But if he’s addressing this person, he is asking permission to make this comparison, knowing she/he will acquiesce.

The speaker then proceeds to describe how his loved one is more lovely and everlasting than the beauty he sees in nature. The speaker never rejects the comparison. He uses the comparison to show his favoritism for his loved one over nature.

In an indirect way, you could say he rejects the comparison because it is through the lines of this sonnet that his loved one lives on. In other words, the eternal summer of his loved one will never fade but that’s because this poem will survive long beyond her death.  So, it is the sonnet itself that never fades. The speaker is talking about the beauty of this person, but the comparison between his loved one and a summer’s day is used to make the point that it is the poetry, not the beauty itself, that provides this longer life.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes