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Sonnet 94

Sonnet 94


by William Shakespeare

Sonnet 94 Theme of Man and the Natural World

The subject matter of Sonnet 94 seems about as far from nature as you can get: a group of cold, calculating people who keep their true selves hidden behind a mask and try not to take everybody out when they wield their power. Given this topic, we wouldn't think that flowers would be the go-to metaphor to describe these powerful peeps, but Shakespeare pulls it off here. Sure, the poem's not about nature, but it finds some convenient thematic parallels in the natural world.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Which best describes the nature imagery in Sonnet 94: people are compared to flowers, or flowers are compared to people? 
  2. What (if anything) does the "summer" represent in line 9? 
  3. Is it actually possible for a person to live like the "summer's flow'r" in line 9, without any responsibilities to any other person? 
  4. Does the speaker of the poem think there is really a meaningful parallel between humans and nature, or is the flower imagery just stuck in there for decoration?

Chew on This

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

The "summer" in line 9 might represent either Nature itself or God.

The "summer" in line 9 doesn't represent anything, and that's just the point: the flower doesn't need the approval of anyone else to exist.

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