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Sonnet 18

Sonnet 18


by William Shakespeare

Sonnet 18 Theme of Man and the Natural World

On one level, Sonnet 18 is clearly concerned with the relationship between man and the eventual, inescapable death he’ll encounter in nature. On another level, the poet also seems fascinated by the relationship between seasonal weather and personal, internal "weather" and balance.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Why do you think the speaker chose the season of summer in particular? Why not Fall, Winter, or Spring? Can you imagine (or write, if you’re feeling creative) how the poem would work with different seasons?
  2. Is there a connection between weather and fate?
  3. There’s a lot of imagery revolving around light and vision in the poem ("eye," "shines," "fade," "shade," and "see"). How do these images work in the thematic structure of the poem? What is there to see, and what is obscured?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

By juxtaposing images of natural turmoil with interior balance, the speaker suggests that harmony can be achieved only by human, rather than environmental, causes.

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