Shall I NOT Compare Thee 2

Shall I NOT Compare Thee 2 - EN 110 Professor Janet Casey...

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EN 110 Professor Janet Casey February 28, 2008 I Do Not Intend to Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day Though a poet’s intent is impossible to determine, his work begs readers to infer a plausible and intelligible meaning from the text itself. Nevertheless, casually reading poetry can create misinterpretations. In Shakespeare’s Sonnet XVII, the first line “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” resonates with most educated individuals as an introduction to a poem that revolves around an unnamed lover. Yet, assuming a lover based on the first sentence of the sonnet proves to be nonsensical, as no lover is mentioned. Shakespeare cleverly complicates the sonnet’s meaning, which leads readers astray. Clearly, the last rhyming couplet switches the attention from the supposed lover to poetry, but the entirety of the poem could be read as an ode to poetry. Though Shakespeare’s readers have widely understood the pronoun “thee” in the first line, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day,” to mean a love interest, Shakespeare never enumerates a lover here, or at any other point in the poem. The second line, “Thou art more lovely and more temperate,” never concretely identifies what or whom “thou” refers to either. Understanding these first two sentences as a lead into a characterization of a lover is understandable given the technique that Shakespeare uses to introduce the
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This note was uploaded on 04/19/2008 for the course EN 110 taught by Professor Casey during the Spring '08 term at Skidmore.

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Shall I NOT Compare Thee 2 - EN 110 Professor Janet Casey...

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