Shakespeare's Sonnets

Decay or Progress, Mutability or Transcendence College

William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 19 presents the concept of time as a destructive force that is omnipotent and all consuming; a creature of various forms, all monstrous, set on tearing apart all that is and has been known in the world, even transcending reality to take from mortal man the beautiful creatures of myth. Yet the strong language granted to the character of time is counterbalanced by the simple but intentional acts of the speaker. In his earnestness Shakespeare succeeds in his fight against time itself by allowing his skill and legacy to keep his lover cast in amber, as students hundreds of years later indeed only know this unnamed romantic interest as a gentleman ever-young. Despite the large number of the Elizabethan sonnet’s fourteen lines being granted to the subject of time, upon its completion the poem becomes a testament to the speaker’s dedication, be it to his craft or his beloved, rather than a lament about mutability. This sonnet is predominately an apostrophe to time, or an address to an entity unseen or unliving.

Capitalized Time is, in the eyes of the speaker, an all-consuming force. The governing metaphor is of Time as a destroyer. With each of the poem’s three quatrains a distinct sense of the entity is...

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