What is a summary of Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18''?

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Jennings Williamson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In this sonnet, the speaker addresses his (or her) lover directly (he speaks to "thee" in the first and last lines), favorably comparing that lover to a summer day. The speaker says that his lover is actually more beautiful and moderate than such a day, in part, because May's winds can be rough and summer does not last very long. Further, sometimes the sun shines too brightly and it gets too hot, and sometimes the sun does not shine brightly enough. All beauty fades, the speaker says, either through chance or through age; however, he declares that his lover's beauty, like an "eternal summer," will remain intact and will never die because he has written these lines to memorialize her beauty forever. He believes that, as long as people are still alive and able to read his words, those words will live on and keep her alive too.

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melissamd eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This is one of Shakespeare's sonnets in which he gives "advice" to a young man, one he is apparently mentoring.  In various sonnets he gives him advice on love, money, etc.  This particular sonnet finds Shakespeare amazed and ashamed that the young man seems to have no love in his heart, only hatred.  In the first quatrains he asks the young man about this hatred, seeming to seek clarification that man really is so hateful.  In the second quatrain he compares the young man's hate to a house--the man hates so much that he does not even repair the roof of his home (i.e. himself).  If he takes such poor care of his home (himself) it will fall in, and perhaps kill him.  By the final quatrain Shakespeare is pleading with the young man to change his ways, or prove Shakespeare wrong.

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