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What is the tone of "Sonnet 55" by William Shakespeare?

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rozh | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted April 20, 2012 at 7:17 PM via web

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What is the tone of "Sonnet 55" by William Shakespeare?

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tmcquade | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted April 20, 2012 at 8:48 PM (Answer #1)

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The tone in Shakespeare's Sonnet 55 is one of great confidence and hope.  The speaker is confidently pronouncing how the object of his affection will outlive all the "marble ... (and) the gilded monuments/of princes" and shall "shine more bright ... than unswept stone, besmeared with sluttish time," or any other "works of masonry" created to honor and commemorate great figures of the past (1-4).  These things will not last; the object of his affection will.   Even war, death, and the world's ultimate doom will not triumph over the object of his affection.  He/she will conquer all, as the poet states:
Nor Mars his sword, nor war’s quick fire, shall burn The living record of your memory. 'Gainst death and all oblivious enmity Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room Even in the eyes of all posterity That wear this world out to the ending doom  (7-12).
The reason his object will triumph and survive over all these obstacles, even while others are crushed and forgotten, is because he/she lives on in this poem:
So till the judgment that yourself arise, You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes.
Because the poet holds this strong belief, he has hope and confidence that both his words and his love will last - and this tone comes across in the sonnet.

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