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Lecture

Shakespeare Sonnets 146 & 29

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Department
English
Course
English 2307E
Professor
Peter Thoms
Semester
Fall

Description
Shakespeare’s Sonnets Sonnet: A form combining a variable number of units of rhymed lines to produce a fourteen-line poem, usually in rhyming iambic pentameter lines. In English there are two principal varieties: the Petrarchan sonnet, formed by an octave (an eight-line stanza, often broken into two quatrains having the same rhyme scheme, typically abba abba) and a sestet (a six-line stanza, typically cdecde or cdcdcd); and the Shakespearean sonnet, formed by three quatrains (abab cdcd efef) and a couplet (gg). The declaration of a sonnet can take a sharp turn, or “volta,” often at the decisive formal shift from octave to sestet in the Petrarchan sonnet, or in the final couplet of a Shakespearean sonnet, introducing a trenchant counterstatement. (Page A24 at the back of Norton B) Sonnet 146 - Speaker encouraging his soul to take action - “Sinful earth” is a metaphor for the body - Opposition between soul and body - “Sinful earth”  biblical idea of being made from earth and decaying back to earth in death (ashes to ashes, dust to dust); also a reference to original sin - Speaker encourages soul to escape its subservient position to the body and recognize its own power - Soul is the center of the sinful earth/body – primary importance - But center has the other implication that the soul is entrapped/contained – position of imprisonment that the speaker is urging it to escape - Poem uses terms of finance (“poor soul,” “cost,” “selling,” “rich,” “inheritors,” etc.) to imply that the individual has not invested wisely by focusing on adornment of the body instead of enrichment of the soul - “Rebel powers” refers to the body in military terms – trying to usurp power by engaging in an act of rebellion (“array” continues the military diction) - “Outward walls” is a metaphor for the body - Suggests unnecessary luxury/adornment on the building - Soul deteriorates as all this cost/expense is spent on the body - Superficial jollity attached to the behaviour of the body - Uses rhetorical questions to drive the soul to awareness - “Fading mansion” (the body) – why devote so
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