Welcome to part 3 of the series where we’ll learn to read and understand Shakespeare and particularly sonnet 18.
So in this video we’ll explore how Shakespeare support his argument, meaning his poetic. How he uses words to support his argument.
So what do we have so far? By now this is what we have.
First of all, we know the main argument: “I’m comparing you to the summer”, “you are more lovely and more temperate”; turns out we have a third criterion, right?
And we have two main sections corresponding to each of the subject: “you” and “the summer”
We also know that there are three criteria of the comparison, not two but three.
Its loveliness marked by red, it’s mildness marked by green, and longevity marked by blue. Okay, and they’re all right here.
As a result, we also note the main argument. We have the complete argument that Shakespeare makes: “You are more lovely, more temperate and more long-lasting.” Okay, very good.
Now let’s go line by line in the body of the sonnet because lines 3 to 14 are like the body of an essay. Lines 1 and 2 are the opening paragraph, meaning the argument, the thesis statement.
It’s not a thesis statement really because it’s not an essay. But it is an argument and an essay, a college essay works exactly the same way.
Let’s go line by line, lines 3 to 14 and see how Shakespeare uses vocabulary, how he uses words, to deliver his points.
So in line 3, we have “Rough winds shake the darling bids of May”. Okay, “rough” and “shake”. This is the opposite of temperate. This is the opposite of mild. This is how he uses words and in fact the words invoke imagery in your mind.
Rough. You can imagine the rough winds that shake the darling buds of May. This is how he accomplishes it.
In next line, the lease is short. Now, we note already there are three criteria. This is the third criterion which is longevity and the lease is short.
Now notice the word lease. So what do you do when you lease a car? You have to give it back, right? Okay, it’s not owning a car, it’s leasing a car. It’s not really yours, you’re just kind of renting it. Very clever, very important. And again, the word short.
So moving on, the summer’s too hot. Again it’s too hot, it’s very clear, there’s no ambiguity about it. You know that the summer is too hot. As a result, we know that you are not too hot, you are just right, you mild but the summer is not.
Okay again, the sun is sometimes dimmed. As a result it’s not lovely. As a result, you are lovelier.
Line 7 and 8: declines, changing course. Every fair from fair to fair sometime declines. Any beauty at some point declines, it dies.
Changing course. You see the course is changing. It is not constant, it is changing. What is the opposite of changing? It is constant.
Okay, very good. So far we have explored what is going on in section one, talking about summer.
And now let’s take a look at section two, so lines 9 to 14.
So now what is going on in line 9?
You are eternal, you will not change. Aha. How does that compare to the previous lines?
Declines. The summer declines. The summer has a changing course.
But you, you will not decline, you are eternal. You will not change.
You see how perfectly he juxtaposes the opposites. It’s a perfectly clear exposition. This is how I want you to write your essay.
Next, line 10: “Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st”
You will never lose possession, you will never lose that which you own. Ow’st means you own it.
Now how does that contrast with lease? Again when you lease a car, what happens? You have to give it back. But if you own a car. You don’t have to give it back, it’s yours. You own it. You will never lose possession of it because it’s yours.
See how clever that is. See how ingenious that id. And see how Shakespeare sticks to the contrast perfectly.
Next, eternal. Again, “You are eternal”. Juxtapose that with changing. See, changing is not eternal. Why? Because it changes. Eternal is constant. See how he juxtaposes again; eternal with changing.
Next, lines 13 and 14 are the punchline of the sonnet. Please note that section two is entirely devoted to the third criterion.
In fact Shakespeare seems to be and looks like he is mostly concern not with loveliness, not with mildness. These things are given that’s why he’s writing about this person to whom he’s writing the sonnet.
But the biggest point is that you will not die. You are much more long lasting than the summer.
Compared to the summer, you will virtually never die, you are eternal.
And now in lines 13 and 14, he actually gives us the reason why he believes that.
Not only does he mention the reasons like he does it in lines 3, 5, and 6 for criteria 1 and 2.
What he does there is he just simply says, well look, rough winds shake darling bids of May, the sun is too hot, his gold complexion is dimmed.
He also of course said in lines 4, 7 and 8 that the summer is too short and it will die.
In section 2, lines 9 through 12, he says that “you” will not die. But in lines 13 and 14 at the end, he actually tells exactly why “you” will not die.
For a very simple reason. Because or as long as man can breathe, for as long as people can come to this poem and read this poem, you are alive in it. So essentially, this poem makes you eternal. It makes you immortal.
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