Shakespeare's Sonnets Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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Write a comprehensive note on the Elizabethan sonnet.

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Thanh Munoz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One needs to be wary of the tendency to look at the Elizabethan sonnet as a monolithic genre. There are significant differences in the treatment of the form by Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, and, of course, William Shakespeare. What links them is not merely their (relative) proximity in time but the fact that all of them, in their way, were self-consciously creating a new phase of English poetry based largely on Italian models.

In his Defence of Poesie Sidney acknowledges that the English lag behind the Romance-language countries in the creation of a significant national literature. But he sees no reason this has to be so, claiming that the English language itself has qualities that make it ideal for literary expression, and that it's perhaps (due to the clarity and simplicity of its grammatical rules) superior to other European languages. Both Sidney, especially in his cycle of sonnets Astrophil and Stella, and Spenser, in his Amoretti, follow the tradition of the Italian sonnet in depicting an...

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