Sonnet Research Papers

Essay/Term paper: Shakespeare"s sonnet #73

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Shakespeare

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Shakespeare's Sonnet #73, published in 1609, is written in the Shakespearean or English sonnet style. It consists of three quatrains and one couplet at the end, written in iambic pentameters. Each quatrain has its own rhyme scheme, rhyming in alternating lines. The couplet summarizes the preceding twelve lines. Sonnet 73 appears to contain multiple parallels to death and the person speaking in the poem gives the impression that he is near death and reflecting back upon life.

The first quatrain, "That time of the year thou mayst behold me/ When yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang/ Upon those boughs which shake against the cold/ Bare ruin choirs where late the sweet bird sang." He seems to be comparing his life the unspecified season, which could either be autumn or winter. If a person were to look at only this quatrain, Shakespeare seems to describe autumn, with images of yellow leaves and a place where a bird sang. However, if the whole sonnet is looked at Shakespeare seems to describe the effects of winter. Shakespeare reinforces the confusion of season with the rearrangement of the natural sequence of events. He says, none before few in describing the leaves hanging, and reminds us of summer with the image of the bird. This serves as a reminder of the encroaching winter. The transposition of "none" and "few" could also imply that a second look to the landscape, as with death. Upon, another glance, death is not here but coming. This quatrain appears to arrest the very process invoked. The winter is never-ending.

In the second quatrain, "In me thou seest the twilight of such day/ As after sunset fadeth in the west/ Which by and by black nigh doth steal away/ Death"s second self, which seals upon rest." Shakespeare seems to say death comes like night, dark and quiet, like a thief, stealing when we sleep. Meaning, death will come, without question. He plays upon the sun setting, which in some cultures was a god dying every evening (and he would be reborn every morning). The sun setting could also be regarded as the sun going to sleep, which plays on the last line of the quatrain, "Death's second self, which seals upon rest." This line talks of the eternal sleep, or death. This quatrain suggests a night without the possibility of day, "seals upon rest."

In the third quatrain, "In me the glowing of such fire/ That on the ashes of his youth doth lie/ As the deathbed whereon it must expire/ Consuming with that which it was nourished by." He seems to compare his life to fire, burning bright in youth, when energy and ideas bound forth, but eventually it all turns to ashes, fragments of the passing youth, essentially death. He also makes implications of lying upon the ashes, his deathbed, of days gone by, days when he was young and full of energy. The fire proposes finality, the non-cyclical process that night and the seasons are part of, which Shakespeare has worked towards in the poem.

The final couplet, "This thou percev"st which makes thy love more strong/ To love that well which thou must leave ere long," says the thought of death makes love more intense. This refers to as idea in the third quatrain, "Consumed with that which it was nourished by." Death consumes the emotions, like a blazing fire, turning all to ashes, after the fuel runs out.

Shakespeare"s Sonnet 73 reveals through symbols of nature the idea of dying. The poem also unites all the symbols through a common theme, fire. The sun, a giant ball of fire, rules the day and the seasons, which directly relates to the image of fire. According to William Bowhan Piper, "Sonnet 73 entire reveals the poet in command of his natural materials, of the images that are relevant to the lesson toward which he is gradually leading us…[to a] some foundation for lasting truth," (p. 363) meaning that Shakespeare within Sonnet 73 describes death in the truest manner possible. Shakespeare in sonnet 73 gives death a face.

Works Cited

Blackmur, R.P. "Essay." Shakespearean Criticism. James E. Person and Sandra L. Williamson, Eds. 10 of 50.London:Gale Research Inc., 1990.

Piper, William Bowhan. "Essay." Shakespearean Criticism. James E. Person and Sandra L. Williamson, Eds. 10 of 50.London:Gale Research Inc., 1990.

Roche, Thomas P. "Essay." Shakespearean Criticism. James E. Person and Sandra L. Williamson, Eds. 10 of 50.London:Gale Research Inc., 1990.

Shakespeare Discussion Area. The Tech, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 30 January 2000 <>.

The Sonnets (4). English Dept., University of Victoria. 31 January 2000 <>.

That Time of the Year Thou Mayst in Me Behold. Dept. of English, Fu Jen. 31 January 2000 <>. 

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Dr. Obermeier'sSample Paper Files

You are advised to peruse these sample papers previous students have written for my classes. The papers are either pdf files or HTML files, in which I have embedded comments to explain why they are superior efforts. The comments refer to the following sentence, phrase, or word. Clicking on the comment link will bring up the content. You have to close a comment window before proceeding to the next one. Clicking on the header will give you instructions on how to make such a running header for your papers. Because of HTML restrictions, the formatting might appear slightly off. You still need to keep your papers double-spaced with 1/2-inch paragraph indent. Even if there is no specific explanation for a specific paper, the papers generally share the following superior qualities: descriptive and analytical titles; analytical theses; superior analysis of the texts; correct inclusion of quotations and formatting.

For instructions on how to do a running header for your paper in MS Word, click here.

Click on your class in the lineup.


For Engl. 250

  • Paper 1 "Sheppard" Characterization
          • This paper has it all: outstanding thought and content, excellent organization, superior sentence structure and diction. This student's command of the language is superb. A few minor problems could have been edited out. The paper received the grade of 96/A.

  • Paper 1 "Girl" Characterization
          • This paper is an excellent example of superior analysis coupled with stylistic economy and succinctness that avoid anything superfluous. The introduction and organization deserve high praise. The paper received the grade of 96/A.
  • Paper 2 Explication of "Sonnet 46"
          • This explication of a Shakespeare sonnet is superbly done. The student outstandingly fused the analysis of the poem with an excellent and virtually error-free style. The paper received the grade of 98/A+.
  • Paper 2 Explication of "Sonnet 42"
          • This is a very good example of a Shakespeare sonnet explication. The student clearly understands the nuances of the sonnet, with great sections on metrical discussion. The paper received 94/A.

            Here are the high-scoring essays for our assignment two. Per announcement in class, these uploads are not following the format as faithfully. I just wanted to get you the info without having to worry about getting everything lined up to MLA standards. Note also that I am providing these examples for the sophistication of the explication, the students' knowledge of technical aspects and detail of analysis; the essays, however, may still contain other weaknesses.

  • Paper 3 Explication of "The Victim at Aulis"
          • The student provides a superbly analyzed and written thematic poetry explication. Notice that the paper is organized around the student's thesis, ie., the major players in the myth and the poem, and not just the chronology of the paper. The paper received the grade of 98/A+.
  • Paper 3 Explication of "Cassandra"
          • This paper is an excellent example of a thematic poetry explication, demonstrating superb intertextual understanding and control of the primary texts. Note the student's concise and honed style. The paper received the grade of 96/A.
  • Paper 4 Synthesis of Millay Poems
          • This paper offers a beautiful synthesis not only of three poems but also two critical approaches: Feminist and Freudian. It is almost flawlessly written and received the grade of 98/A+.
  • Paper 4 Synthesis of Mythology Poems
          • The paper is up, but I am still working on the comments..
  • Paper 5 Shrew Research Paper
          • This is an exquisite research paper utilizing a postmodern approach to Taming of the Shrew. Notice that the critical approach is incorporated into the paper; therefore, there is no extra Barry page. The paper received 98/A+. Sorry, no comment boxes yet.
  • Paper 5 Yankee Research Paper
          • This is another outstanding research paper. It shows the incorporation of the research especially well. Notice that the Barry page is appended after the works cited page.The paper received 98/A+. Sorry, no comment boxes yet.
      • Return to Student Resources Page

For Engl. 304


For Engl. 306

For Engl. 351

Paper 1a here was written for Chaucer's Canterbury Tales but also works for Love Visions. To save time, I did not create javascript comment boxes but inserted my comments in square brackets into the actual paper. Notice that the paper has all the aspects an outstanding paper should: original thought and analysis, clear organization and thesis, interesting intro, correct sentence structure, superior diction, and mostly correct MLA format. The paper received a score of 98/A+. Clicking on the header will give you instructions on how to make such a running header for your papers. Because of HTML restrictions, the formatting might appear slightly off. You still need to keep your papers double-spaced with 1/2-inch paragraph and 1-inch block quotation indents. Papers 2a and 2b were written for the shorter Love Visions assignment, 2c for the longer paper; these papers have no comments in them and are in pdf.

For Engl 449/559

For Engl 450/550

For Engl 451/551

For Engl 581

For Engl 650








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