Sonnets 20 and 49
William Shakespeare has been hailed as one of the greatest literary geniuses of all time. He was versatile in his works. He produced comedies, histories, tragedies, romances, and of course, poetry. His sonnets are so highly reverenced that some people quote them at their weddings in the place of vows. Sonnets 1-126 recount the speaker’s idealized, sometimes painful love for a femininely beautiful, well-born male youth (Greenblatt, Cohen, Jean E., and Katherine 1937). Sonnet 20 establishes the nature of the object of the speaker’s affection. Sonnet 49 opens with the lines “Against that time —if ever that time come—/When I shall see thee frown at my defects…” which signify to the reader that the speaker is anticipating a time when their lover no longer sees them as flawless.
Sonnets were introduced in Italy. Francesco Petrarch developed the Petrarchan sonnet for his dearest Laura during the Italian Renaissance. She also influenced the subject of most sonnets, which is unrequited love. He loved her, but she did not reciprocate his feelings. The Petrarchan sonnet consists of an octave and a sestet. The octave introduces a problem while the sestet offers a solution or a comment to the situation developed in the octave. The Petrarchan mode reached England by the early sixteenth century in the works of Wyatt and Surrey, (Greenblatt, Cohen, Jean E., and Katherine 1938). When Wyatt and Surrey brought the Italian sonnet to England, they altered the rhyme scheme and introduced the structure to William Shakespeare. Shakespeare acquired the structure and titivated it to make it his own. He changed the structure to three quatrains and a concluding couplet. This type of sonnet is known as the Shakespearean sonnet. His structure offered a greater variety of ideas. Shakespeare, however, does not venture far from the main subject matter in his sonnets from Petrarch’s unrequited love, longing, jealousy, and similar emotions.
In Sonnet 20, Shakespeare explains...