Ray Robert, comments on Shakespeare’s use of the word “complexion” in Shakespeare’s sonnet 18. Editors and critics of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 all agree that the word “complexion” refers to both facial complexion as well as the face of the personified sun. The face of the sun is at times dimmed by clouds and similarly internal clouds of melancholy darken the disposition or complexion of the young man. The author notes that, Shakespeare in his sonnets refers to a “combination of humors of the body” which determines a person’s “complexion” or his/her temperament. As such, the author asserts that Shakespeare also uses the word “temperate” to refer to the physical aspects such as physical appearance and weather. Shakespeare uses these comparisons based on different metaphors to bring out the emotions of the young man in almost all of his sonnets which are about a young man in love.
Robert Jungman’s analysis of the sonnet 18 “shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” states that William Shakespeare wanted to remind his friend of the vanity of physical beauty. “every fair from fair sometimes declines”. Jungman notes that the structure of the poem is conventional English sonnet which suggest of older Italian or Petrachan with its sestet and octet. In particular, the first eight lines of the sonnet present a general statement referring to the mutability of things. There is a reversal in the last six lines which asserts the poet’s verse intends to transcend change and thereby keep the friend alive. The reversal is best exemplified in line 8 “by chance or nature’s changing course untrimmed” (Shakespeare) Another analyst, Stephen Booth explains that untrimmed refers to the adjustments to sails or yards in reference to the direction of the wind. The metaphor could also mean the general adjustment of life’s situations to align with nature.
The theme of mutability is hereby brought out in sonnet 18. It is best explained by the use of words such as “temperate” “sun” “face” “ornament” among others. This use of imagery also helps in bringing out themes of love, mutability and change in human life.
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