Study Guide

Sonnet 18 Literature and Writing

By William Shakespeare

Literature and Writing

Like much of Shakespeare’s work, Sonnet 18 is all about writing and expressing one’s self through language. This is, at its clearest, a poem about the power of the written word over death, fate, and possibly even love.

Questions About Literature and Writing

  1. Is this speaker trying to be a good writer? Do you think he succeeds?
  2. Line 11 features an unusually clear Bible reference. What’s the deal with that?
  3. How does someone "grow" in "eternal lines to time" (12)? What’s up with that?
  4. Does Shakespeare’s poetry actually make the beloved more "eternal" than summer? Is that even possible?

Chew on This

Sonnet 18 can be read as a critique of reasoning by analogy, as the speaker, running through a series of increasingly tangential musings, completely loses sight of what he set out to do.

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