Hello and welcome again.
This is part 2 of the video series on how to read and understand Shakespeare particularly about Sonnet 18.
So let’s pick up we left off in part 1 and let’s look at the criteria Shakespeare uses to compare “you” to “the summer”.
In other words we’re going to look at how the main sections are structured.
So what do we have so far?
So far we know that we have two main sections by means of which Shakespeare is comparing “the summer” to “thee”, to “you“.
Okay, Shakespeare is about to compare you to the summer. And he’s about to do it in terms of two criteria.
And what are the criteria? They’re loveliness and mildness.
In line 2, he says “You are more lovely and you are more temperate.” These are the two criteria that he should be using throughout this comparison.
Let’s see if Shakespeare uses these two criteria to make this comparison. Let’s take a look. Let’s read the lines 3 to 14 and see how Shakespeare accomplishes what he wants to accomplish.
So line 3: “Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May.”
Which of the two criteria is Shakespeare using here?
Well he’s talking about mildness. Why? Because the winds are rough. Now because the winds are rough, they’re not mild, it’s the opposite of mild.
So you see how he begins by talking about summer and show you with a picture that the summer is rough because it has rough winds.
Next line 4, he said “And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;”
Now I’m thinking here: the date is too short and it has something to do with time, not necessarily with being lovely or tempered.
So I’m going to leave that for now because I’m not sure if he’s talking about loveliness or mildness here.
And let’s move on to line 5. We’re going to come back to line 4 and some of the other lines.
So let’s talk about line 5: “Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines.”
So it’s too hot meaning it’s again about mildness. The summer is not mild so you are milder in comparison to the summer. Because again the summer is too hot; the winds are rough, the sun is too hot, it’s not mild at all.
Very good. So so far, we have two examples of mildness, the second criteria.
Line 6, “And often is his gold complexion is dimm’d;” Okay, the complexion is dimmed. This has to do with loveliness because when it’s dimmed, it’s not lovely now. Bright is beautiful but dim is less lovely, is less beautiful.
Therefore, line 6 is about loveliness. He’s saying well, summer is really not that lovely, compared to you at least if you think about it, because his gold complexion is often dimmed and is not quite lovely. Very good.
So let’s look at line 7: “And every fair from fair sometime declines”. So wait a second, it’s “sometime declines”. Again it seems to have something to do with time by chance or nature’s changes in course untrimmed. Alright, that’s the continuation of this sentence.
Interesting. To me it doesn’t seem like it’s about loveliness.
Could it be that there are actually three criteria? Well let’s take a closer look.
We’re going back to line 4: “And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;”
The summer simply is too short, that is the problem with the summer in line 4. Not that it’s not lovely, not that it’s not mild, but the problem with is it is too short.
Let’s look at lines 7 and 8.
“And every fair from fair sometime declines”. Fair meaning beauty. Any beauty at some point, declines. Meaning at some point it will die. It will by chance, or simply by nature’s changing course untrimmed.
Meaning nature’s course is changing. It will change. Therefore any beauty will eventually die. That seems to be the argument here.
So it has nothing to do with loveliness and has nothing to do with mildness.
Let’s continue and let’s take a look at the section about “You”, about the second subject of the comparison, about “thee”.
“But thy eternal summer shall not change”
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;”
Aha. You see but your summer shall not change, it will never change. It will never lose the possession of the beauty that you own.
So again it has to do with time. See, the summer is too short and it will die but your summer shall not die. You will always keep what you own.
Let’s look at lines 11 and 12.
“Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal line to time thou grow’st:”
Yes, death may be hovering around and about you but it will not have you. The death is powerless against you. Very interesting. Again it has to do with time.
The death will never have you. And how come?
Well, lines 13 and 14 will tell us. Because:
“So long as men can breathe and eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”
For as long as human beings are alive, you are alive in this poem. Aha.
So it looks like the third criterion is longevity. It is being long-lasting.
How long does the summer last? Well the summer in section 1 doesn’t last very long. It has all too short a date. It will decline sometime, meaning at some point in time it will die.
However, section 2 starting in line 9 starts with a “but”. However, your summer will not be changed, it will not lose that beauty. Death will not have because for as long as people can read his poem, you will be alive in it.
How interesting that Shakespeare actually uses three criteria, not two. Very interesting.
And so as a result of looking at the structure this way, so now we see that there are three criteria. And because there are three criteria, this expands the main point that Shakespeare makes.
As a result, what we have the main argument is “You are more lovely, more temperate and more long-lasting”. Meaning you are virtually eternal.
So as result, this is what we have done. We have looked at the structure and we have been climbing that ridge. We have been climbing that side of it where it says “structure.”
So we identified first that we have two main sections to the sonnet. And we also identified just now that there are three criteria that Shakespeare uses.
When you think in terms of numbers, eg how many parts, how many sections, how many criteria, how many characters, how many this, how many that, etc
When you think in terms of numbers, this will really, really helps you to identify the structure.
And as we were climbing in structure, we were also ascending in meaning. So as we went up in structure, we also were gathering meaning.
And now at this point we can say, “Okay, I got it!”
I really got it because at this point, you pretty much understand the sonnet perhaps 90 – 99%.
Now in the next video 3, in part three we’re going to talk about how Shakespeare uses vocabulary to accomplish proving his points or supporting his argument.