Sonnet 18 Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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Please paraphrase Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18."

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ophelious eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Well, to paraphrase something means to "express the same message in different words," so that is what I will try to do:

I'd compare you to a summer's day,

but you are prettier and more pleasant.

In spring rough winds shake the trees

and mess up their new leaves,

and summer doesn't last that long once it comes.

Sometimes the sun is too hot

and sometimes it is too cold out,

but that is just the way nature works.

You, though, are the gift that keeps on giving!

Baby, you're like a summer that never goes away.

Not even death can wipe out the memory

of how great my love is for you,

because I wrote this sweet poem about it.

As long as people have eyes and can read

this poem will remind them

how much I loved you.

That's about it: I love you, you're way better than the beautiful stuff people usually think of, and this poem will remind people forever how much I love you.  Romantic, huh?



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nivine | Student

In "Sonnet 18" by Shakespeare the speaker poses a question to himself as to how to best immortalize his beautiful lover. At first he compares his love "to a summer's day," (1) which the speaker sees as most beautiful. However, he finds the metaphor imperfect so he decides through internal debate and poetic expression that the best way to immortalize his love is through his own poetry. This method eternalizes both his love for her and her beauty in written words. The speaker is able to immortalize his love through his use of metaphor, unconventional grammar to highlight his love for her, and a structure influenced by the Petrarchan and Shakespearean style of sonnets.

The line "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day" (1) opens the speaker's debate with a comparison between his love and the season of summer; yet, the summer has "rough winds" (3) and passes

too quickly while his lover's beauty is eternal (4). Each subsequent comparison between his lover and the summer fails in immortalizing his lover's beauty as each comparison is imperfect in describing her beauty, which will fade in time: "And every fair from fair sometimes declines" (7) The line "Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines" (5) is a statement that shows summer can often be too hot. In this next line "And often is his gold complexion dimm'd" (6) we see that the sun only shines for part of the day and disappears for much of the year. Summer is thus an imperfect season, but his love is not. The speaker's love is so beautiful that she shines always and her beauty is of such perfection that any comparison will not immortalize his love for all time. His debate continues, but his attempt to compare his love to summer convinces him that his lover's beauty is beyond compare: "But thy eternal summer shall not fade/ Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest " (9-10).

Satisfied with his debate the speaker finds a solution as to how to best immortalize his lover "So long lives this and this gives life to thee" (14). The speaker states that the only way to keep his love alive forever is through his own poetry, which will be read for all of time: "So long as men can breathe or eyes can see" (13). This line is the speaker's testament that as long as man remains on earth then this poem will be read and his love's beauty remembered through the beautiful lines of the poem "When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st " (12). He believes that the lines in the poem are so beautiful that they will last longer than a summer's day as "Sonnet 18" will be read forever as something more appealling and infinite than a summer's day. Confident in the beauty of "Sonnet 18," the speaker is stating that this poem will be debated, enjoyed, and analysed "So long as men can breathe or eyes can see" (13) because this poem is able to immortalize her loveliness.