Love and Beauty in Shakespeare Sonnets

Love and Beauty in Shakespeare Sonnets

How does Shakespeare present Love and Beauty in his sonnets:

Shakespeare is not only the greatest sonneteer of the Elizabethan Age but also one of the greatest sonneteers of all ages. In his sonnets, the main themes are love and beauty in relation to time. But he has dealt with these themes with such innate human feelings, lofty idealism and noble philosophical thoughts that they have become things of beauty to appeal all hearts forever. That is why, we even in this modern age, go through these sonnets of Shakespeare and derive true joy from them.

     Shakespeare's sonnets are not certainly the conventional literary exercises of the time. In the opinion of S.P. Sengupta, "In the intensity of passion and sincerity of feelings as revealed in the sonnets, one can hear the warm heart-beats of the poet, which can not be expressed unless one experiences it. The ideal devotion to the friend may have a conventional touch. But the fleshy passion, expressed so poignantly rings absolutely true." In a number of sonnets, Shakespeare deals with the love and beauty of his great patron and friend (perhaps, Earl of Southampton). In relation to time, these sonnets are, indeed, superb in lofty thoughts, noble idealism, excellent artistic design and charming musical quality. Let us now analyse the sonnets to reveal the thoughts and poetic beauties. 

       In "Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer's Day", (sonnet no- XVIII) Shakespeare speaks of the charming beauty of his friend and hopes to immortalize his beauty through his undying poetry. The sonnet expresses the poet's deep and genuine love for his friend. His friend is even more lovely and more temperate than summer's day. It is true, an object, however beautiful it may be, passes away by cruel mandates of time. A beautiful bud of May falls down by the rough shake of wind. A beautiful and happy spring that charms all bids good-bye soon. Even the beautiful golden complexion of the sun is destroyed quickly. Therefore, every fair object loses its fairness when the cruel Time casts its glance on it. This is the universal truth prescribed by Time.

     In "That Time of Year Thou Mayst in Me Behold", Shakespeare's theme is again love and beauty in relation to time. Of course, in this sonnet the poet speaks of his own beauty that decays as he advances in age. He sadly imagines the time of his life when he will cease to have his manly strength and power and will become as awful as the dead state of Nature, after the end of spring. But in the concluding couplet of his sonnet, the melancholy poet is inspired up with a note of optimism, thinking that his sincere friend's deep love towards him will grow more though his body will go on decaying. 

     In "Let Me Not To The Marriage of True Minds" the theme is again immortal love and beauty in relation to time. In this sonnet, Shakespeare highly idealizes and glorifies love and marriage which consists in the genuine love of two souls for each other. Such a genuine love never fades away. Therefore, the poet with bold optimism utters, "It is an ever-fixed mark/ That looks on tempests, and is never shaken."

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Use of Imagery in Shakespeare's Sonnets 

     Therefore, as illustrated above in the three sonnets, we find that Shakespeare had depicted the eternal conflict of Time with love and beauty with wonderful psychological insight and human feelings. But love has always triumphed over time. In these sonnets, the poet's lofty idealism and thoughts make the poems things of true beauty to appeal the hearts of men and women of all ages.

Click Below to Read More:

Biography of William Shakespeare

Sonnets Forms Characteristics Development 

• Romantic Period In English Literature

Shakespeare's Sonnets Forms Themes Structure Examples 

 Victorian Age in English Literature

• Rabindranath's View on Modern Poetry

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