Categorize Shakespeare's sonnets and describe what they reveal about Shakespeare's character.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

From your question, it sounds like you are writing a paper on Shakespearean Sonnets and what they reveal about Shakespeare's character.  I can see why you are having difficulty.  There are over 100 sonnets and they vary widely according to subject/theme, tone, and literary techniques.

I'm going to answer your question somewhat broadly in order to maximize the potential for giving you the greatest amount of help.  If this is a standard analysis essay, you will need to narrow down this vast topic anyway, which means that though you may have several ideas, you need only focus on a few.

The first thing you should do (or may have started) is brainstorm a couple of lists.  Use the following questions to help you organize your thoughts:

  1. Into what categories/topics could many of Shakespeare's sonnets fall?  (Ex: love, humor, beauty, nature, irony)
  2. Of the above list, which 3 do you feel the most comfortable with? (Choose three categories for which you can create the most evidence or the three you are most familiar/comfortable with.)
  3. What do these three categories (from #2) reveal about Shakespeare's character?  (Ex: He was a romantic; he was unusually creative and saw things differently than other writers in his time; he a bit cynical and used humor to express his frustration.)

Once you've answered the above questions, you will need to find evidence to prove your thoughts.  Again, narrow the field by focusing on a few key sonnets, rather than all 150.

When it comes time to write your paper, you have different options for organization.  You could focus each body paragraph on one subject and what that subject reveals about Shakespeare's character.  You might find that all three of the subjects you choose reveal ONE common characteristic about Shakespeare, and this could become your overall focus.  You may even choose to just focus very strongly on ONE subject of Shakespeare's sonnets and the many things that subject reveals about Shakespeare's character.

I like to think of essay organization mathematically.  It is best if you have one or two overall points of focus, and three subtopics (which become the body paragraphs).  This basic "equation" for essays is easily adapted to more or less specific requirements from your instructor.

I hope this helps you get started, and if you find yourself stuck, feel free to come back to Enotes for further advice.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial