Shakespeare's Sonnets Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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How does the form of Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 "Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?" establish the theme? (What is the theme?)

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Arguably his most well-known sonnet, Shakespeare's Sonnet XVIII is written in the Petrarchan sonnet form. This form lends itself well to the expression of the theme of the constancy of true love and its ability to be immortalized.

In his exultant first lines, the poem's speaker asks the rhetorical question, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" and then contends that his lover is more "lovely and temperate" than the seasons. For "Rough winds" shake the delicate Spring buds from the trees, and in summer "too hot the eye of heaven shines." After these and other expansive reflections in the first eight lines, line nine contains the Petrarchan Volta , or turn in thought. It is here that Shakespeare...

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