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The danger of introductions for many students, is that they start out well and fluently, with great intentions and having read all the background research - and end up by writing the whole essay! Stand back from your whole assignment first, and make a list of all the things you are going to talk about later (historical context, style, techniques, literary devices, rhyme, metre, subject and so on.) Then, start to write your introduction by listing the things you are going to discuss, mentioning your particular sonnet and author. This is like an 'introductory map' for your teacher/examiner - they know where you are going to take them with this. Don't fall into the trap of writing the whole essay in the first paragraph.

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An introduction is meant to introduce the reader to the basic information regarding the poem. Assuming that you are explicating the poem, or explaining its meaning, you might include some of the following in an introduction:

  • the title and poet's name
  • the speaker of the poem
  • to whom the speaker is writing
  • the subject of the poem--love, hate, etc.
  • a general thesis statement--the theme of the poem

Your body paragraphs would then use the specific details from the poem to prove your thesis statement. Use quotes from the poem that are examples of what you are saying. For example, you might quote line 11 of the poem to show the personification of death.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

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If you have been assigned to write an explication to this sonnet by William Shakespeare, you may wish to introduce your interpretive explanation by placing the sonnet in its context with others.  For instance, you may wish to mention that it carries a similar theme, tone, subject, etc. to previous sonnets. 

For instance, in Sonnet XVII, Shakespeare, as the speaker, writes in his couplet that the object of his love "should live twice;--in it [life], and in my rhyme."  Now, in Sonnet XVIII, the speaker contends that his love will again live forever in "eternal lines."  While there are several other parallels which you can use to introduce the sonnet, as well, theme is often a strong idea and works well as you lead into your explication.

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While it is not possible to write an Introduction for you, it is possible to guide you to how to write it yourself. First, you want to identify the Sonnet by answering the who, what, to whom, when, and where, if where is applicable, of the sonnet.

For instance, who would be William Shakespeare. What would be a fourteen line sonnet with a rhyming couplet in the last two lines. To whom would be to whom the sonnet is written, if known; when would be the date of writing and where, the location.

Next you want to give a description of the content and meaning of the poem. then you want to mention the main theme. This information should comprise a nice introduction to Sonnet 18.

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