Renaissance English, Shakespeare Sonnets Compare and Contrast.

Write a well-organized essay using good transitions, with title and numbered pages, of 1000 words (4-5 pages)

Choice A. Compare and contrast two of Shakespeare’s sonnets. (To review the sonnet tradition, see 127-133.)Identify and discuss paradoxes, conceits and other elements that create depth and complexity, namely wordplay (witty double meanings), irony (the surface meaning is not the true one), and ambiguity (purposeful uncertainty). These devices enable access to deeper meanings and express conflict better than simple statements. Since each sonnet is a small drama, it’s important to hear the poet’s tone and emotion in order to sense these elements working together.

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Follow this format:

1. First, select TWO Shakespeare sonnets that share some quality, even if very slight (see 4). Open with a statement about what links them (this can be any aspect, whether tone, theme, addressee, or imagery). EG: “Sonnets 138 and 147 express some anger at the beloved, but as I will show, the emotional drama is very different in each; one is more playful, the other bitter.” (Hint: To help hear the tone and dramatic meanings, watch The Sonnet Project and pay close attention to how the actors express what emotions in each line).

2. Follow your opening with two main sections, each one devoted to analyzing one sonnet.Copy in each sonnet.Point out all the elements you can find that express complexity (paradox, irony, wordplay, ambiguity, conceits), and relating them to the drama of the sonnet. Explore the layers of meaning you can find in a given line or phrase, quoting them exactly. No outside research is needed, but if you use any research be sure to credit it in footnotes.

3. In the last section, answer this: What do you perceive about the speaker and his emotions and attitudes from looking closely at these two poems together, that you wouldn’t know from reading just one? What do you learn about early modern gender and sexuality (that differs from norms today) from this exercise?

4. Here are some great pairings, with both similarities and strong differences. I suggest you choose one of these duos. Sonnets 29/33, 23/55, 105/138, 127/130, 105/116, 20/144.

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