Identify three themes evident in Shakespeare's sonnets.
One theme that cuts across Shakespeare's sonnets focuses on the immortality of verse. Shakespeare is constantly reassuring his beloveds that they will not die, because they will be remembered forever through his poetry. For example, he writes in Sonnet 16,
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,So long lives this [my sonnet], and this gives life to thee.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rareAs any she belied with false compare.
Shakespeare also similarly upsets cliches in Sonnet 18, where he praises his beloved as being better than a summer day, noting all the deficits in a summer day, which he (the beloved) does not possess. Through this, Shakespeare insists on being realistic and not simply repeating worn-out language.
Third, Shakespeare focuses on some of the agony love can cause. For example, in Sonnet 137, Shakespeare laments that he is in love with an unworthy woman, a person he calls a "false plague." He, like so many lovers, is caught by outward beauty—what he sees and hears—even though he knows the soul of this woman is not good.
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