Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer's Day Theme

What do you think is the theme of Shakespeare's sonnet, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"   

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In my mind, the theme of the Sonnet is a reverence of love or feelings of emotions from the speaker to another element.  Certainly, this could be the love of the creation of art or the ability to love another.  The idea of setting this spirit of Eros to the natural setting helps to bring forth the idea that one's love is almost as natural as other phenomena experienced in the world of nature.  Connecting both of these experiences into one, making them almost seamless expressions of individual expression and nature represents a critical theme of the sonnet.  Shakespeare's ability to make the subjective universal helps to create the idea that individual expression and natural expression are one in the same.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I'm not exactly sure what you mean by my take on it, but here's what I think Shakespeare is trying to say in this poem.

In my opinion, this poem is mostly about how great he thinks his poetry is.  People usually think it's about the woman he's talking about, but I think is just as much about the poetry.  After all, what is it that gives life to her, that makes her immortal?  It is the fact that he has written this poem about her.  So it's his poetry, not something about her, that is going to make her immortal.

Other than that, I would just say that I really like the poem.  I think his way of comparing her to the summer's day and all the things he says about how she is better are quite clever.

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lit24 | Student

The theme of Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18" is that his lover is more beautiful and desirable than "a summer's day" because even such a wonderful season like summer has its flip side-it's too short and sometimes too hot. He concludes by saying that he wishes to immortalize  forever the beauty of his lover in his poetry.

The theme of Shakespeare's sonnet is that mankind is indeed mortal - all human beings will die. The only way to immortalize a human being is by praising him in excellent verse which the future generations will always read. Shakespeare  compares his lover to "eternal summer" and he has immortalized his lover in his sonnet 18:

But thy eternal summer shall not fade 
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest: 
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, 
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

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epollock | Student


About this sonnet there is little that one can say except that it is one of the foremost poems in the language. The last two lines climax the poem's argument. Here the speaker asserts that the poem will endure as long as human life endures, and that as long as people can see (and read), the sonnet will give life to the woman the speaker is addressing. It is the immortality of art that the speaker exalts over life's transience.

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