COMPLETE ANALYSIS OF SONNET 3 (Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest):
Shakespeare’s sonnets are a testament to his mastery of language and have been captivating readers for centuries.
You are reading the complete analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 3: Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest.
William Shakespeare and Sonnet
William Shakespeare is one of the greatest playwrights in history. He crafted a series of 154 sonnets which were published in 1609.
Sonnets are a form of poetry that typically consist of 14 lines. Shakespeare’s sonnets follow this basic structure. Each line of a Shakespearean sonnet is usually written in iambic pentameter. It has ten syllables and a specific stress pattern.
Shakespeare’s sonnets are known for their beauty, complexity, and emotional depth. They explore a wide range of themes, including love, beauty, time, mortality, and the nature of art.
SUMMARY OF SONNET 3: Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest
Sonnet 3 urges the subject to look into a mirror which becomes a window into the soul which reveals the subject’s true nature.
The speaker emphasises the fleeting nature of youth and encourages the subject to make the most of their time by creating a beautiful and enduring image.
Like a painter with a canvas, the subject must use their youthful years to craft an image that will last a lifetime.
In the end, the speaker emphasises the importance of preserving one’s youth and beauty and passing on one’s virtues to future generations.
STRUCTURE OF SONNET 3: Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest
Sonnet 3 by William Shakespeare follows the structure of a typical Shakespearean sonnet. It consists of 14 lines of iambic pentameter. The poem’s structure consists of three quatrains and concludes with a final couplet.
The rhyming scheme of Sonnet 3 is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. This means that the poem has three quatrains with alternating end rhymes, followed by a rhyming couplet.
The first and third lines of each quatrain rhyme with each other, as do the second and fourth lines. The final couplet has a rhyming pair of lines.
POETIC DEVICES IN SONNET 3: Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest
The poem as a whole incorporates various poetic devices which includes:
- Metaphor: The speaker compares the act of looking in a mirror to looking into one’s own soul.
- Personification: The mirror is personified as an object that can “tell” the viewer about their appearance.
- Alliteration: The repetition of the “th” sound in “thy,” “the,” and “thou” creates an alliterative effect.
- Assonance: The repetition of the “oo” sound in “look” and “thou” creates an assonant effect.
- Repetition: The repetition of the word “thou” emphasises the addressee of the poem and reinforces the speaker’s message.
- Iambic pentameter: The poem follows iambic pentameter as its meter. It has a rhythmic pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables that gives the lines a musical quality.
- Rhyme: The poem follows a specific rhyme scheme (ABAB CDCD EFEF GG), which adds to its musicality and reinforces its structure.
ANALYSIS OF FIRST STANZA OF SONNET 3: Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest
Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest,
Now is the time that face should form another;
Whose fresh repair if now thou not renewest,
Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some mother.
In the first stanza, the speaker is addressing a young man. The speaker invites the young man to contemplate the fleeting nature of his physical beauty by looking at himself in a mirror.
The second line sets up the theme of renewal. The phrase “form another” speaks to the idea of legacy and continuity. Creating new life ensures young man’s legacy and continuity.
The third line introduces a sense of urgency. It warns the young man to act now and have a child, or deny the world the blessings of renewal and continuity.
The phrase “fresh repair” implies that the child will be a source of renewal and rejuvenation to world.
Overall, the first stanza of Sonnet 3 sets up the themes of self-reflection, renewal, and the passing on of one’s legacy to future generations.
ANALYSIS OF SECOND STANZA OF Sonnet 3: Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest
For where is she so fair whose uneared womb
Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?
Or who is he so fond will be the tomb
Of his self-love, to stop posterity?
Here, the speaker urges the young man to procreate by asking rhetorical questions that emphasise the foolishness of not having a child.
The speaker implies that a woman of great beauty would never pass up the opportunity to bear the young man’s child and waste her potential for fertility and growth.
The phrase “uneared womb” creates a comparison between a woman who has not given birth and an uncultivated field. It highlights the importance of preparation for growth and fertility in both cases.
“The tillage of thy husbandry” portrays the young man as a farmer with the power to cultivate new life. It highlights the responsibility of procreation. The speaker suggests that it would be a shame for him not to use this ability.
The next two lines ask who could be so foolish as to deny himself the opportunity to create a legacy.
The phrase “his self-love” implies that those who refuse to procreate are burying their potential legacy beneath the weight of their own ego.
The phrase “to stop posterity” conveys a sense of finality. It suggests that the young man’s refusal to procreate would halt the continuation of his beauty and qualities.
Overall, second stanza of Sonnet 3 encourages the young man to embrace fatherhood as an essential element of his personal and social fulfilment.
ANALYSIS OF THIRD STANZA OF Sonnet 3: Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest
Thou art thy mother’s glass, and she in thee
Calls back the lovely April of her prime;
So thou through windows of thine age shalt see,
Despite of wrinkles, this thy golden time.
This stanza of Sonnet 3 suggests that the young man is a reflection of his mother’s beauty.
The first line of the stanza compares the young man to a “glass” that reflects his mother’s image. The word “glass” here means a mirror or reflection. It suggests that the young man is a physical embodiment of his mother.
The second line explains how the mother sees her own youth reflected in her child, as if looking back to a time when she was in her prime.
The third line shifts the focus to the young man. It suggests that he will also see his own reflection in his own children as he grows older. The phrase “windows of thine age” suggests a kind of clarity and insight that comes with age and experience. It also suggests the ability to look back on one’s life with perspective.
By having children, the young man can relive his mother’s youth and
vitality. He can also experience his own “golden time” despite the
natural ageing process.
Overall, the second stanza of Sonnet 3 is a reflection on the importance of procreation, family, and the legacy that parents pass on to their children.
ANALYSIS OF LAST COUPLET OF Sonnet 3: Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest
But if thou live remembered not to be,
Die single, and thine image dies with thee.
The line implies that without children, the young man’s legacy and memory will be lost after his death. The phrase “live rememb’red not to be” means to live a life that is not remembered after death. This will essentially make one’s existence irrelevant.
By having children, one can achieve a kind of immortality as the legacy can live on through future generations.
The phrase ‘thine image dies with thee’ highlights the importance of having children to carry on one’s legacy and memory after death.
Overall, the last couplet underscores the importance of procreation and the continuation of one’s legacy through offspring. It suggests the importance of leaving a lasting impact beyond one’s own life and having children is one way to achieve this goal.
THEMES OF Sonnet 3: Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest
The main themes of Sonnet 3 include:
- The Importance of Procreation: The sonnet stresses the importance of having children to continue one’s legacy. Without heirs, one’s memory will fade away with time.
- The Power of Reflection: The metaphor of a glass or mirror is used to explore the relationship between parent and child. The child is portrayed as a reflection or mirror of the parent.
- The Search for Meaning: The sonnet suggests that having children provides a sense of purpose and fulfilment in life. Without children, one’s life may lack meaning or direction.
- The Fear of Oblivion: The final couplet suggests that without heirs, one’s memory and image will die with them. The sonnet expresses a fear of being forgotten after death.
- The Passage of Time: The sonnet acknowledges the inevitability of ageing and the passing of time. The phrase “windows of thine age” suggests the clarity and insight that comes with experience.
SETTING OF Sonnet 3: Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest
Sonnet 3 has no specific setting as it is a poetic expression of the speaker’s advice to a young man.
By looking in a mirror, the speaker creates an introspective space that serves as the setting of Sonnet 3. The use of a mirror as a metaphorical device for self-reflection and contemplation is a common theme in literature. It explores the idea of the passing of time and the importance of procreation.
However, the poem’s themes are universal and timeless, transcending any specific setting or time period.
CONCLUSION OF Sonnet 3: Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest
The conclusion of Sonnet 3 is a strong and memorable couplet that leaves a lasting impression on the reader.
The last couplet emphasises the importance of having children to ensure that one’s legacy and memory live on beyond one’s own lifetime.
The speaker says “But if thou live rememb’red not to be/ Die single, and thine image dies with thee”. He cautions the young man that the passage of time will inevitably erase his beauty and vigour. If he procreates and passes on his qualities to the next generation, he can avoid it.
Overall, the conclusion of Sonnet 3 exhorts the reader to seize the day, live life fully, and strive for greatness before time runs out.