Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day? In lines 3–8, the speaker continues to think about his comparison. What image does he use to show that summer weather is unpredictable?

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coachingcorner's profile pic

coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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In Shakespeare's time there was not really such a season as spring as we know it now, so summer was joyfully celebrated much earlier - in March!, probably in the time we now know as spring. So to the people then, early May would have been known as summertime. So I would choose the "rough winds shake the darling buds of May" as my image in showing that 'summer' is unpredictable. After all, in England, early May comes straight after windy cool April so the weather is really not that much different yet - although when the sun does come out, it can be hot. (But not for long sadly!) Shakespeare himself associating the word 'May' with summertime as the word 'summer's day' appear too.

dstuva's profile pic

Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Concerning your question about summer's unpredictability in Shakespeare's Sonnet 18, I'll quote the lines for you and put the imagery that answers your question in bold:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer's lease hath all too short a date;

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimm'd,

And every fair from fair sometime declines,...

Rough winds, heat, overcast skies, and fair days that lose their fairness make summer weather unpredictable.  I believe any one of the images answer your question, but if I had to choose just one, I would probably choose "too hot the eye of heaven shines," since it is more concrete than the other images, and specifically refers to summer, as opposed to the wind in May, which could be interpreted as referring to spring.

Incidentally, the only line above that doesn't contain imagery uses metaphor, comparing the length of the season to a rental lease. 

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

There are at least couple of different images that the author uses to show that summer weather is unpredictable in the lines that you cite.

First, he uses the image of buds being shaken from a tree.

After that comes the main image -- sort of a personification of the sun.  So I guess the image there is of the sun as a person.

We are told that his complexion is often dimmed.  This means that the weather is sometimes cloudy.  At the same time, however, his eye sometimes shines too hot.  So that really shows that the weather is unpredictable.

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