What is an example of a metaphor in Shakespeare's "Sonnet 112"?

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karaejacobi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare's "Sonnet 112" opens with a metaphor in the first two lines: 

Your love and pity doth the impression fill
Which vulgar scandal stamp'd upon my brow; (1-2)

In these lines, the speaker addresses a friend whose "love and pity" help relieve the stress placed upon the speaker by some undisclosed "scandal." The specific metaphor is in line 2, when the speaker says, "vulgar scandal stamp'd upon my brow." This is a figurative expression, as there has not been a literal stamp with the word "scandal" marked on the speaker's forehead. The speaker feels, though, that he has been marked by a scandal and that its impact is visible to others. 

Next, the speaker continues to tell this friend that it is his/her opinion that the speaker values above those of all others: 

For what care I who calls me well or ill,
So you o'er-green my bad, my good allow? (3-4)

Here, the phrase "you o'er green my bad" is metaphorical. Shakespeare seems to refer to covering or shading something with leaves ("o'er-green") as a figurative way of saying that what his friend says and thinks overshadows what any others think about him; his friend focuses on "[his] good" and forgets "[his] bad."

In line 5, the speaker refers to his friend as his "all-the-world," which is like a modern-day equivalent of telling someone, "you mean the world to me." The friend is, though, not literally an entire world, so this is also a metaphor. 

All of these are examples of metaphor because Shakespeare's figurative expressions are comparisons that do not use the words "like" or "as" (those would be similes). 

Read the study guide:
Shakespeare's Sonnets

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