What is a critical analysis of Shakespeare's Sonnet 18?

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A critical analysis of Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 discusses everything from structure to rhetorical figure of speech word schemes. The structure is that of an English, or Shakespearean, 14 line sonnet having three quatrains with one ending couplet. This differs from the Italian Petrarchan sonnet form of two quatrains and one sestet with no rhyming couplet. The rhyme scheme is the traditional English sonnet scheme of abab cdcd efef gg. The underlying metaphor is built upon a comparison of his beloved's youth and beauty to a summer's day. The poetic speaker asserts that she cannot be thus compared because she shall be eternal through the power of his poetic lines.

The first quatrain (lines 1-4) says she is more lovely than a summer's day and more "temperate" than the "darling buds of May": so the summer day and she are contrasted with each other. The second quatrain says summer days can be too hot, decline, be dimmed and changed: "fair from fair sometime declines." The third quatrain says that she will not fade nor know death like a summer day will do because she will continue "in eternal lines to time." The ending couplet finalizes the theme of eternal beauty and youth caught in the poet's immortalizing lines by saying she will live as long as "men can breathe or eyes can see." The theme can thus be stated as: Eternal beauty and youth are bestowed by the poet's immortal and immortalizing lines that withstand the diminishment of time, quite unlike "a summer's day."

The structure adheres to the...

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