COMPLETE ANALYSIS OF SONNET 6: Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface
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 6: Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface
William Shakespeare and Sonnet
Sonnets are a type of poem that typically have 14 lines and follow a specific rhyme scheme. Shakespeare’s sonnets are among the most famous in the English language. They are known for their depth of feeling and complex exploration of themes like love, beauty, and mortality.
Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets in total.
SUMMARY OF SONNET 6: Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface
Sonnet 6 highlights the value of procreation and legacy in the face of time’s passage and mortality’s inevitability.
The sonnet emphasises the importance of procreation and creating a legacy beyond one’s own physical existence. The speaker compares winter to an old man with a “ragged hand” that can destroy the delicate flowers of spring. He urges the young man to consider the value of creating a lasting legacy through procreation and preserving his beauty.
The sonnet advocates for early marriage and procreation to secure the continuation of the young man’s beauty. The speaker concludes by urging the young man to have children to ensure the continuation of his beauty and legacy.
STRUCTURE OF SONNET 6: Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface
The structure of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 6 is as follows:
- 14 lines in total, which is typical of a Shakespearean sonnet
- Written in iambic pentameter, with each line consisting of 10 syllables. It follows a pattern of unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable (da-DUM)
- Rhyme scheme:
- Line 1-4: ABAB
- Line 5-8: CDCD
- Line 9-12: EFEF
- Line 13-14: GG
- Divided into three quatrains (four-line stanzas) and a final couplet (two-line stanza)
- Sonnet 6 uses nature imagery to show time’s destructive power on youth and beauty, explored through a metaphorical argument in quatrains.
- The couplet in Sonnet 6 urges the subject to have children as a way of defying time’s destructive force.
POETIC DEVICES IN SONNET 6: Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface
Shakespeare employs several poetic devices in Sonnet 6:
- Metaphor: “winter’s ragged hand” is a metaphor for time’s destructive power, emphasizing its ability to erode youth and beauty.
- Personification: Winter’s hand is personified, as if it has the agency to deface and destroy.
- Alliteration: The repetition of “r” in “winter’s ragged hand” creates a biting effect that emphasizes winter’s harshness.
- Repetition: The phrase “Then let not” is repeated at the beginning of the second and third quatrains, emphasizing the speaker’s argument and urging the subject to take action.
- Imagery: Sonnet 6 uses vivid nature imagery to convey time’s effects on youth and beauty through “bare ruined choirs,” “death’s second self,” and “eternal lines.”
ANALYSIS OF FIRST STANZA OF SONNET 6: Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface
Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface,
In thee thy summer, ere thou be distilled:
Make sweet some vial; treasure thou some place
With beauty’s treasure ere it be self-killed.
The first quatrain warns against the destructive power of time and urges the young man to preserve his beauty. The metaphor of “winter’s ragged hand” emphasises the destructive power of time, particularly in relation to the “summer” of youth and beauty.
The phrase “ere thou be distilled” suggests that youth and beauty are fleeting, and must be captured and preserved before they are lost.
The verb “distilled” is also associated with the idea of transformation and purification. It suggests that the process of capturing youth and beauty is not only important, but also transformative and even alchemical.
The second and third lines of the quatrain introduce the idea of capturing beauty through art.
The use of the word “vial” suggests that beauty can be captured like a perfume or essence, and that the subject has the power to do so. The phrase “beauty’s treasure” further emphasises the value and preciousness of youth and beauty.
Overall, the first quatrain sets up the theme of the sonnet: the transience of youth and beauty, and the urgent need to capture and preserve them before they are lost forever.
ANALYSIS OF SECOND STANZA OF SONNET 6: Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface
That use is not forbidden usury,
Which happies those that pay the willing loan;
That’s for thy self to breed another thee,
Or ten times happier, be it ten for one;
The quatrain begins by introducing the idea of “usury,” or lending money at an exorbitant rate of interest. However, sonnet 6 subverts the concept of time’s destructive power by suggesting beauty and youth can be used to create a child, an act of allowed usury.
The phrase “Which happies those that pay the willing loan” suggests that having a child is a joyful and rewarding experience. The subject should view their beauty and youth as a gift to be shared with others.
The line “That’s for thy self to breed another thee” implies that procreation extends one’s legacy beyond the self.
The final line, “Or ten times happier, be it ten for one,” emphasises the exponential joy and happiness that can come from creating a new life. The use of the number “ten” suggests that the rewards of procreation are vast and immeasurable.
Overall, the second quatrain offers a counterpoint to the theme of the first quatrain. It implies that one can transcend youth and beauty’s fleeting nature by creating new life, contrasting the first quatrain. The quatrain also introduces the idea of legacy and the continuation of one’s own self through offspring.
ANALYSIS OF THIRD STANZA OF SONNET 6: Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface
Ten times thy self were happier than thou art,
If ten of thine ten times refigured thee:
Then what could death do if thou shouldst depart,
Leaving thee living in posterity?
The quatrain proposes the subject could be “ten times happier” by producing ten offspring, each of whom reproduced ten times. The phrase “refigured thee” suggests that the subject’s legacy would be multiplied and extended beyond their individual self.
The next two lines pose a rhetorical question. It implies that death would be powerless against the subject’s legacy, which would continue to live on through their offspring.
The use of the word “posterity” emphasises the idea of legacy and the continuation of one’s own self beyond death. The quatrain implies that procreation triumphs over death’s inevitability, suggesting it extends one’s life and legacy beyond the self.
Overall, Sonnet 6’s third quatrain emphasises procreation’s transformative power and the idea of leaving a lasting legacy. It also adds a sense of defiance against death, implying the subject’s legacy can endure even after their physical departure.
ANALYSIS OF LAST COUPLET OF SONNET 6: Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface
Be not self-willed, for thou art much too fair
To be death’s conquest and make worms thine heir.
The couplet offers a concluding thought to the sonnet’s previous arguments. It suggests that the subject should heed the previous quatrains’ advice to preserve beauty and extend legacy through procreation, rather than being stubborn.
The phrase “much too fair” highlights the vulnerability of the subject’s beauty to decay and mortality. Worms vividly consume the subject’s physical body after death. It reinforces the idea that preserving one’s beauty and creating a lasting legacy through offspring is a way of triumphing over the inevitability of decay and mortality.
Overall, the couplet offers a final plea to the subject to not let their beauty and youth go to waste, but rather to take action to preserve it and extend it through procreation. The couplet also serves as a reminder of the transience of life and the importance of leaving a lasting legacy beyond one’s own physical body.
THEMES OF SONNET 6: Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface
Some of the main themes present in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 6 are:
- The passage of time and mortality: The sonnet underscores the notion that beauty and youth are transient and will inevitably succumb to the effects of ageing and mortality.
- Procreation and legacy: The sonnet argues that procreation is a way of extending one’s own life and creating a lasting legacy beyond one’s own physical body.
- Defiance against death: The sonnet suggests that by preserving one’s beauty and creating a legacy through offspring, one can triumph over the inevitability of decay and mortality.
- The value of selflessness: The sonnet suggests that by being selfless and sharing one’s beauty and legacy with others, one can create greater happiness and fulfillment.
- The power of language and poetry: The sonnet itself is an example of the power of language and poetry to capture and convey complex ideas and emotions. The sonnet uses poetic language and imagery to create a vivid and persuasive argument in favor of procreation and legacy.
SETTING OF OF SONNET 6: Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface
Shakespeare’s Sonnet 6 does not have a specific setting in terms of a physical location or time period. Instead, the sonnet explores universal themes of mortality, beauty, and legacy that are relevant to all human beings, regardless of their specific context or background. The sonnet explores the speaker’s psyche and thoughts on time and legacy through introspection and reflection. As such, the setting of the sonnet is primarily metaphorical, rather than literal. The language and imagery used in the sonnet create a vivid and compelling vision of the fleeting nature of beauty and the power of procreation to overcome the inevitability of death.
CONCLUSION OF SONNET 6: Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface
Sonnet 6 urges preserving beauty and youth through procreation and creating a legacy, rather than letting it go to waste. It stresses on creating a legacy beyond oneself, and not being stubborn to recognise the value in doing so.
The sonnet meditates on time’s passing, mortality’s inevitability, and the power of legacy and procreation to outlast death’s ravages. It uses vivid language and imagery to argue in favor of preserving beauty and creating a lasting legacy through offspring.
Overall, the sonnet is a powerful expression of the human desire to transcend mortality and create something enduring that outlives us.