Comparing William Blake and William Wordsworth

Sonnet 18 In Sonnet 18, William Shakespeare begins by considering what metaphorical comparisons would best reflect the young man, in fact a typical convention of Renaissance poems is to compare beauty and youth with aspects of nature. In the first and in the second stanza he develops the idea of summer: in the first stanza (the introductory part) he wants to compare the young man to a summer day, but he also says that the man is more beautiful and more lovely than a summer day; in fact, he knows, summer can be very short and the weather is changeable: sometimes it’s too hot and sometimes the sun has disappeared, but he can’t be obscured.

Then the poet adds that it is also true that, like a real summer, the young man’s youth will not last forever, because it is how nature goes (it’s temporary). The third stanza starts with an adversative, here the poet concentrates in the man’s beauty and he says that his beauty won’t disappear; not even death can take his beauty, because in poetry the poet is able to preserve the idea of beauty and youth. It is something like a promise: in the world of the poem, the young’s man beauty will never die, but it will go on growing in the minds of readers; Shakespeare wishes to preserve the young man’s beauty against the effects of time.

The poem carries the meaning of an Italian or Petrarchan Sonnet (Petrarchan sonnets typically discuss the love and beauty of a beloved). The theme is the transience of beauty, the poet tries to immortalize the young man’s beauty through his own poetry. Sonnet 130 This is a sonnet written for a dark lady, in which Shakespeare criticizes the idealising tendency of the most Elizabethan love poetry to compare the beloved with nature. Sonnet 130 is clearly a parody of the conventional love sonnet, made popular by Petrarch.

In describing his dark lady, he is careful to emphasise how little she corresponds to the conventional idea of beauty of his time; in fact from the sonnet we can understand that the woman is not beautiful: she doesn’t have soft hair, instead she has got black wire hair, she doesn’t have brilliant eyes and red lips , she has dark skin (breasts), moreover he can’t see the colour of the roses in her cheeks and her breath can’t be compared to perfume, her voice is not as pleasant as music and she doesn’t walk like a goddess.

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For him, however, the fact that she is not conventionally beautiful is an indication of her “natural” beauty; what fascinates the poet in his lady are the things that make her unique in his eyes, these things make her rare in a world in which the women have to correspond to an ideal notion of beauty. So Shakespeare ends the sonnet by proclaiming his love for his mistress, so he does finally embrace the fundamental theme in Petrarch’s sonnets: total and consuming love.

Romeo and Juliet (balcony scene) After seeing Juliet at the Capulet’s house during the feast, Romeo secretly return to see her again: Romeo, hidden amongst the shadows outside Capulet’s house, sees Juliet in the balcony; Juliet, believing that she is alone, professes her love for Romeo and her profound sorrow that he is a Montague. Romeo reveals himself and the lovers speak to each other.

Romeo is very poetic when he speaks about Juliet, he is a platonic lover, in fact he describes Juliet as a perfect woman (he idealizes Juliet): he says Juliet is the sun and the moon is jealous, her eyes are far more brighter than the sun, they are so brighter that the birds sing all the time. He describes her using some of the conventions of courtly love and Neo-Platonism found in sonnets of the time.

Instead Juliet, even if she has the passion, goes right into the problem, which is the name; she is more realistic and she’s worried because Romeo shouldn’t be there and if someone sees him he could die. The dominating image in Romeo and Juliet is light: Romeo associates Juliet with sunlight and stars and the light emanating from angels. Shakespeare’s works are written in Early Modern English; the language used by Romeo and Juliet, particularly Romeo, is often lyrical.

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