In Shakespeare's "Sonnet LXVI" (66), what literary techniques are used?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While there is the apparent observation of the fourteen-line structure and rhyme scheme of the Elizabethan sonnet, the most salient literary techniques of Shakespeare's Sonnet LXVI are repetition and parallelism.  After these, the use of synedoche and antithesis exists, a usage prevalent in the Sonnets.

  1. repetition and parallelism - Lines 2 through 12 begin with the word And, after which is a parallel structure of (adjective) noun + adverb + verb.
  2. alliteration - Along with the breathless pace of so many lines being joined by the conjunction and, a hurried pace is also created with the use of alliteration with the beginning cosonant sounds of /b/ in line 2 with "behold,"and "beggar born"; the /n/ in line 3 ["needy nothing"];/t/ in line 9 /s/ with "tongue-tied"; in line 11 with "simple" and "simplicity; and /c/ with "captive" and "captain."  
  3. framing/parallelism - Lines 1 and 13 frame the sonnet with feelings of melancholy and despair; then the other lines are all structured in similar patterns.
  4. personification - In line 7 "right perfection" is given the human quality of being "disgraced wrongfully", while in line 12, "good" is characterized as being "captive";"ill" is a "captain."
  5. antithesis, a contrast between two things, is certainly apparent in this poignant sonnet.  For instance, most of lines 2 through 12 exhibit opposing opposites.  For example, line 7 has "right perfection wrongfully disgrac'd"; and, line 10 has "folly (doctor-like) controlling skill".
  6. rhyming couplet - The last two lines are a conclusion to the sonnet, often a summarizing statement, such as the one in Sonnet LXVI:

Tir'd with all these, from these would I be gone,

Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.

Thus, Sonnet LXVI is a meditation upon the speaker's despair and a desire to end his life that is only deterred by his love for his friend who would be alone without him.