What are the similes and/or metaphors in Shakespeare's Sonnet 18?

Although the whole poem comes close to being an extended simile, there are no actual similes in Shakespeare's Sonnet 18. There are, however, several metaphors, comparing the short length of summer to a short-term lease on a house, the course of nature to that of a ship, and the sun to an eye and a face. Death is also personified.

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Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 comes close to being an extended simile, without ever quite being one. A poem which said "You are like a summer's day, in the following ways" would clearly be a simile on the same expansive scale as Homer's comparisons. Here, however, the poet cannot make up his mind that his beloved should be compared to a summer's day, then proceeds to list the ways in which the two are dissimilar.

There are several metaphors within the poem, however. In the fourth line, the image is drawn from the legal profession. Summer is described as being like the tenancy of a house with a short-term lease, emphasizing the brevity of the season. In the following two lines, the sun is first described as an eye, then as a face which has a "gold complexion." Both these metaphors personify the sun, an effect reinforced by the use of the pronoun "he."

At the end of the second quatrain, the changing of the seasons is compared to a ship changing course with "untrimm'd" sails. Finally, there is the

(The entire section contains 5 answers and 871 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on July 9, 2020
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