Sonnet 55 Critical Analysis

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Critical Commentary: Sonnet 55, William Shakespeare There is always more than meets the eye when it comes to the poems of Shakespeare. Poets are very particular with their choice and placement of words and it can be intriguing to dig a little deeper and try to uncover the true meanings and significance of what is written. Shakespeare is very clever with his wordplay and diction and uses multiple literary devices to enhance the power of Sonnet 55. This particular poem seems to be addressing the same young man that is generally thought to be the addressee in the poems preceding this one. It is never made clear exactly whom this young man is but it is believed to potentially be the person the sonnets are originally dedicated to, a “MR W.H.”,…show more content…
He talks about the strength of this poem, or “rhyme” being greater than the monuments of rulers, or “princes”. It appears as though he is trying to use the marble and monuments as symbols for a finite life span. These monuments will not last forever because they eventually will deteriorate and turn to rubble, much like our bodies will when we eventually pass away. However, this poem will outlast the monuments and marble and continue to live on through its readers. Shakespeare is pushing the idea that with his creative talents he can do what the ruler and leaders cannot: live on through artistic creations. Shakespeare also uses alliteration in these first two lines to make them stick out. The use of M’s in “marble” and “monument” and the P’s in “princes” and “powerful” instantly grab the attention of the reader from the start of the…show more content…
The word live appears to be a very prominent word throughout this poem because the poem itself is focused on keeping the life of this man alive through the power of poetry. Helen Vendler in the Art of Shakespeare’s Sonnets refers to “live” as a “key word” (xv). Vendler has a very interesting theory that Shakespeare is having some fun with the reader in a way (xv). Shakespeare has occasionally followed a pattern where he will repeat a keyword 4 times: once in each “quatrains” (3 of them) and once in the “couplet” (Vendler xv). This poem holds her theory for three of the four requirements (in Q1: line 2, Q2: line 8, and the couplet: line 14) (xv). However, while searching in Q3 the word live is nowhere to be found. Vendler’s theory is that the word “live” is actually being hidden from the reader inside the word “oblivious” in line 9 (Vendler xv). There is no proof that Shakespeare did this intentionally, but it does match past structures of his poems (Vendler xv). Believe it or not, there is no doubting that the repetition of the word “live” is used to help drive the overall meaning of the
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