Shakespeare's Sonnets by William Shakespeare

Shakespeare's Sonnets book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Why is Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18" so famous?

Expert Answers info

Rebeka Auer eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write538 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Firstly, Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18" is so famous because, outside of perhaps "to be or not to be," it has some of Shakespeare's most famous lines and phrases that most people have heard even without knowing the poem. For example "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" and "darling buds of May."

Secondly, is his answer to the question he poses in the first line of whether she deserves to be compared to a summer's day. His answer seems to be does summer deserve to be compared to the woman. Sometimes summer is too hot or windy. Other times the sun disappears behind the clouds. This woman, however, is always beautiful and will remain beautiful for the remainder of her life.

He immortalizes the woman through simple and clear but powerful language and metaphors that anybody can relate to. Summer, for example, isn't constant or reliable. As he states:

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines

And often is his gold complexion dimm'd

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Suman Chakraborty eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Professor


calendarEducator since 2008

write63 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and Science

Shakespeare’s ‘Sonnet 18’ is a love poem, which directly initiates a comparison between the beloved’s beauty and a summer’s day. By crucially pointing out the mutability found in nature [“every fair from fair sometime declines”] the sonnet projects the eternal significance of Shakespearean verse [“when in eternal lines to time thou grow’st]. The sonnet is unique not only in its use of imagery and treatment of themes, but it also crucially points out how and why Shakespearean verse is unique. In this sonnet all lovers discover their own voice. The lover Shakespeare in ‘Sonnet 18’ understands the significance of love as a life-giving force and in the couplet he, therefore, proclaims:“So long as men can breathe or eyes can...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 592 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

amy-lepore eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2005

write3,513 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

podunc eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2007

write284 answers

starTop subject is Literature

check Approved by eNotes Editorial