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The Elizabethan sonnet is also called the English or Shakespearean sonnet. The Elizabethan sonnet tends to contain messages of love (similar to the Petrarchan sonnet).
The Elizabethan sonnet contains fourteen lines. These lines are broken into four stanzas. Three stanzas are quatrains (contain four lines) and one is a couplet (contains two lines).
The rhyme scheme of the Elizabethan sonnet is as follows: abab cdcd efef gg. This means that the first/third and second/fourth lines in each stanza rhyme. The final couplet (last two lines) rhyme as well.
The poem is written using iambic pentameter. An iamb is a foot of an unstressed and stressed syllable. Pentameter means that there are five feet in a line of poetry. A scansion of the iambic pentameter line looks like this ("u" identifies unstressed "/" represents stressed).
u/ u/ u/ u/ u/
For another view, the unstressed syllables will be written in lower case, and the stressed syllables will be written in upper case and bolded.
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In most sonnets, a volta or change appears. Normally, this signals a change in the message or the solution to the problem (named in the three quatrains). Traditionally, the volta appears at the end of line 12, the beginning of line 13, or at the end of line 9 (Shakespearean Sonnets).
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