COMPLETE ANALYSIS OF SONNET 9
William Shakespeare was an English playwright and poet who lived during the late 16th and early 17th centuries.
He is famous for writing plays, including comedies, tragedies, and histories, and also for writing 154 sonnets, which are among the most well-known works in the English language. Shakespeare’s work has had a profound influence on literature, language, and culture throughout the world.
Shakespeare’s sonnets are a masterpiece of poetic brilliance, solidifying his place as an all-time great writer. The sonnets remain relevant, studied in literature classes and cherished for their language and themes by readers worldwide.
You are going through a thorough analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 9: Is it for fear to wet a widow’s eye
SONNETS BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
William Shakespeare’s sonnets are a collection of 154 poems, each consisting of 14 lines. Active: The first publication of his sonnets was in 1609, and people consider them to be some of the most famous and influential works in English literature.
Shakespeare’s sonnets are widely studied and revered for their poetic beauty and profound insights into the human experience. They continue to inspire and captivate readers and scholars alike, nearly 400 years after their initial publication.
SUMMARY OF SONNET 9: Is it for fear to wet a widow’s eye
In sonnet 9, the speaker reflects on the power of poetry to express love and to deal with loss.
The speaker is addressing a young man and questioning his decision to remain single and childless. He argues that not having children means wasting one’s beauty and talents, causing the world to mourn their loss.
Young man’s refusal to marry is selfish and shows a lack of love for others, akin to “murderous shame.” He unleashes love onto paper, braving the pain, rather than leaving it to wither in the confines of his heart. Ultimately, he accepts poetry can’t resurrect the dead but can eternalise love’s splendour, honouring those who departed.
The sonnet reflects the Elizabethan belief that marriage and procreation were essential for a person’s fulfilment and legacy.
Overall, Sonnet 9 is a contemplation of the power of love and poetry to transcend death and loss. The speaker urges readers to express love openly, unafraid of potential hurt and loss, embracing emotions wholeheartedly. The sonnet is a tribute to the beauty of love and the enduring power of poetry to capture and preserve that beauty for all time.
STRUCTURE OF SONNET 9: Is it for fear to wet a widow’s eye
Sonnet 9 follows the traditional structure of a Shakespearean sonnet. It consists of 14 lines, which are divided into three quatrains (four-line stanzas) and a final rhyming couplet (two-line stanza).
The rhyme scheme of Sonnet 9 is:
- Line 1-4: ABAB
- Line 5-8: CDCD
- Line 9-12: EFEF
- Line 13-14: GG
The sonnet is written in iambic pentameter. It means each line has ten syllables and follows a pattern of unstressed and stressed syllables (da-DUM).
In the first quatrain, the speaker poses a rhetorical question to the young man. The speaker asks if he is afraid to have children out of concern for a widow’s grief.
In the second quatrain, the speaker suggests that the young man’s beauty should be shared with the world through having children.
The third quatrain serves as a transition to the final couplet. Here, the speaker encourages the young man to think beyond himself and consider his impact on future generations.
Overall, the structure is typical of Shakespearean sonnets, emphasising the poem’s themes of time, mortality, and procreation.
POETIC DEVICES IN 9: Is it for fear to wet a widow’s eye
Sonnet 9 employs a variety of poetic devices to convey its message and create a sense of beauty and musicality. Here are some of the key devices used in the poem:
- Rhetorical question: The poem begins with a rhetorical question posed by the speaker to the young man. The speaker asks if he is afraid to have children out of concern for a widow’s grief.
- Metaphor: The speaker compares procreation to the birth of a new world. He states that “To die, whenas the birth of thee and me / Upon a world of woe successfully”. This metaphor emphasises the importance of passing on one’s virtues and goodness to future generations.
- Personification: The speaker personifies time as a destructive force, warning the young man that his beauty will not last forever.
- Imagery: Shakespeare employs vivid imagery, like “purple pride,” to highlight the young man’s physical beauty and make it more tangible.
- Repetition: The phrase “make thee such a one” is repeated twice in the final couplet. It emphasises the speaker’s plea for the young man to procreate and leave behind a legacy.
- Alliteration: The poem features alliteration, like “fear to wet a widow’s eye” and “beauty making beautiful old rhyme”.
Overall, the use of poetic devices creates musicality and beauty while emphasising the poem’s themes of mortality and procreation.
ANALYSIS OF FIRST STANZA OF SONNET 9: Is it for fear to wet a widow’s eye
Is it for fear to wet a widow’s eye,
That thou consum’st thy self in single life?
Ah! if thou issueless shalt hap to die,
The world will wail thee like a makeless wife;
The first quatrain poses a rhetorical question to the young man, asking if his reluctance to have children stems from a fear of leaving a grieving widow. The speaker suggests that the young man is “consum’st,” or wasting away, by remaining unmarried and childless. The use of “thou” creates a direct and personal tone as the speaker directly addresses the young man.
The second line introduces “issueless” and implies that not having children is a negative outcome. In the third line, the speaker warns that the world would “wail” the young man like a widowed wife if he died without children.
In the final line, “makeless” refers to a childless wife, emphasising the tragic and empty fate of leaving behind no heirs.
Overall, the first stanza establishes the central theme of procreation’s significance and fear of leaving no legacy. Using vivid language and rhetorical questions, the speaker challenges the young man’s reluctance to have children and highlights negative consequences.
ANALYSIS OF SECOND STANZA OF SONNET 9: Is it for fear to wet a widow’s eye
The world will be thy widow and still weep
That thou no form of thee hast left behind,
When every private widow well may keep
By children’s eyes, her husband’s shape in mind:
The second stanza of Sonnet 9 delves deeper into the theme of leaving behind a legacy through procreation. The metaphor of the world as the young man’s widow emphasises the importance of children in ensuring one’s legacy. The world’s weeping symbolizes the tragedy of a life unlived and an unfulfilled legacy.
The second line highlights the importance of leaving behind a physical representation of oneself, saying “no form of thee hast left behind.” This suggests that the young man’s legacy is incomplete without a tangible reminder of his existence, such as children.
The third line introduces the idea that even private widows can keep their husband’s memory alive through their children. The phrase “every private widow well may keep” emphasizes the accessibility of this method of preserving one’s legacy.
The final line uses the metaphor of a widow keeping her husband’s shape in mind through their children’s eyes. This suggests that leaving behind a physical representation can preserve one’s memory and traits through the next generation, even after death.
Overall, the second stanza of Sonnet 9 reinforces the theme of procreation and legacy building. It emphasises the importance of leaving a tangible representation of oneself, suggesting that having children is the most effective way to do so. The metaphor of the world as the young man’s widow underscores the potential tragedy of not fulfilling the responsibility.
ANALYSIS OF THIRD STANZA OF SONNET 9: Is it for fear to wet a widow’s eye
Look what an unthrift in the world doth spend
Shifts but his place, for still the world enjoys it;
But beauty’s waste hath in the world an end,
And kept unused the user so destroys it.
The third stanza shifts to the fleeting nature of beauty and its consequences, continuing the theme of procreation and legacy.
The first line introduces the idea of an “unthrift in the world” who spends recklessly without thinking of the future. The metaphor warns against a self-centered life that wastes beauty without consideration for future impact.
The second line suggests the unwise may change their ways, but the world will always benefit from their productive efforts. This could be interpreted as a reminder that our actions have consequences that extend beyond our own lifetime.
The third line introduces the idea that beauty is a finite resource which will eventually come to an end. The phrase “beauty’s waste” suggests that beauty is wasted if it’s not used for procreation.
The final line of the stanza emphasises the idea that beauty must be used in order to be preserved. If someone does not use it to create offspring, they will lose it forever. The word “destroys” carries a strong connotation of finality and irreversibility, emphasising the importance of utilising beauty while it lasts.
Overall, this stanza highlights the idea that beauty is a finite resource that must be utilised in order to be preserved. The speaker suggests that the fear of causing sadness to a potential widow is not a sufficient reason to forego having children, as the preservation of beauty is a more important goal.
ANALYSIS OF LAST COUPLET OF SONNET 9: Is it for fear to wet a widow’s eye
No love toward others in that bosom sits
That on himself such murd’rous shame commits.
The final couplet provides a strong conclusion to the speaker’s argument that procreation is necessary to preserve beauty. The first line suggests that anyone who chooses not to have children out of fear of causing sorrow to a potential widow is lacking in love for others.
The second line emphasises the idea that choosing not to have children is a selfish act. The word “murd’rous” carries strong connotations of guilt and wrongdoing, suggesting that the speaker believes this choice is morally wrong. The word “shame” implies that the act of not procreating is shameful as procreation is essential for maintaining beauty.
Overall, the final couplet emphasises that not having children to spare a future widow’s sorrow is an inadequate excuse. The use of strong language such as “murd’rous shame” and “no love” emphasises the moral implications of this decision. Thus, framing it as a selfish act that goes against the greater good.
THEMES OF SONNET 9: Is it for fear to wet a widow’s eye
Sonnet 9 emphasises the significance of procreation by having children to maintain beauty, making it the central theme of the poem.
The main themes of Sonnet 9 include:
- Procreation: The sonnet contends that procreation is crucial to sustain beauty, which is finite and can only be prolonged through offspring.
- Selfishness vs. selflessness: The speaker implies that abstaining from having children due to concern for a widow’s sorrow is selfish, prioritising self-interest over beauty’s preservation.
- Mortality: The sonnet touches on the transience of life and the urgency of utilising beauty before it is too late. The language used in the sonnet reinforces this theme, emphasising the need to act quickly before beauty is lost forever.
Overall, Sonnet 9 touches on the theme of mortality and the transience of life. The speaker suggests that life is fleeting and that beauty, which is a part of life, must be utilised before it is too late.
SETTING OF SONNET 9: Is it for fear to wet a widow’s eye
William Shakespeare wrote Sonnet 9, one of his 154 sonnets. It is part of a sequence of sonnets, addressing to a young man.
The poem does not explicitly state its setting, as sonnets belong to a genre of lyric poetry that generally prioritises the speaker’s thoughts and emotions over their physical surroundings. Instead, the poem’s content revolves around the speaker’s emotional appeal to the young man.
Overall, the setting of Sonnet 9 is not particularly relevant to its meaning or themes. Instead, the focus is on the speaker’s persuasive arguments and emotional appeal to the young man. The speaker employs rhetorical techniques to convince the young man that not having children deprives him of a legacy and lasting impact.
CONCLUSION OF SONNET 9: Is it for fear to wet a widow’s eye
The conclusion of Sonnet 9 is a powerful statement that urges the young man to reconsider his reluctance to have children.
The speaker contends that avoiding children out of fear of hurting a widow is not a good excuse, as it is selfish and prevents leaving a legacy.
The final couplet suggests that if the young man continues to be improvident and self-centred, he cannot truly claim to love anyone. Ultimately, it emphasises the themes of love, beauty, and the passing of time that are central to the sonnet sequence.
In conclusion, Sonnet 9 is a persuasive plea that highlights family’s significance and urges the young man to create a lasting impact by having children. It emphasizes the importance of love and family, and the role that beauty and talent can play in creating a lasting legacy. The rhetorical question at the heart of the conclusion challenges the young man to consider his choices and to make the most of the opportunities available to him.