Comparison of Sonnets of Drayton, Shakespeare and Browning

Categories: William Shakespeare

All three of the sonnets are love poems. They are all dramatic monologues in which a poet apparently addresses a person he/she loves. Both Drayton and Shakespeare wrote Shakespearian sonnets whereas E Barrett Browning chose to write a Petrarchan sonnet. Drayton and Shakespeare also include a reversal of meaning in their sonnets but E Barrett Browning has no reversal. Shakespeare and E Barrett Browning also consider that love relates to time and think about the immortality of love. E Barrett Browning's Petrarchan sonnet is unconventional as it is written by a lady to a man.

It's also unconventional because it is sincere and has no Volta which emphasizes the authenticity of her love to her husband. On the other hand Drayton and Shakespeare's sonnets are conventional and conform to the structure of a typical sonnet. They both start with one meaning and then cleverly change to another. Another similarity between Shakespeare and Drayton's sonnets is that they use a great deal of elaborate imagery.

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Yet E Barrett Browning uses direct and tender language and very little imagery. She also sets a romantic and sincere mood. While Shakespeare and Drayton play amusing games with the reader.

Shakespeare and Drayton also use abrupt reversals of meaning where E Barrett Browning uses a consistent and logical structure. The first sonnet 'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day' by William Shakespeare is a conventional sonnet in which a gentleman apparently addresses a person that he is in love with. It is a conventional sonnet as it written with a typical rhyme scheme which is a, b, a, b, c, d, c, d, e, f, e, f, g, g, and it includes a Volta.

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Shakespeare uses a great deal of elaborate imagery and with the reversal of meaning seems to play amusing games with the reader.

Shakespeare starts his sonnet with a rhetorical question; "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? " and then goes on to say; "Thou art more lovely and more temperate" which leads us to believe that she is far more pleasant and beautiful than summer itself. As we read the next line; "Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May" a pleasing image conjures up in our minds. The next line suggests that summer is too short and the beauty of the lady will last forever; "And summer's lease hath all to short a date". The following line; "Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines"

uses personification which personifies heaven. It suggests that he prefers the lady to summer as the lady has no unpleasant extremes. Shakespeare has deliberately used elaborate language. The line also compares her radiance to the sun. But as the line after suggests the sun is often covered by clouds but her beauty will never dim and always shine through; "And often is his gold complexion dimmed". Afterward Shakespeare say's; "And every fair from fair sometime declines," which portrays to us that everything shall fade. Shakespeare then makes an emphatic statement and also a paradox;

"But thy eternal summer shall not fade," She is then complimented that she will never lose her beauty; "Nor lose possession of that fair owest" and death will never be able to touch her and she is immortal; "Nor shall death brag thou wanderest in his shade". In the last two lines he is triumphant that he has proved the paradox. The last lines "So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee" say his sonnet will last forever which instantly takes away the romance as he all along was complimenting his poem rather than the lady.

The next sonnet named 'Sonnet' by Drayton is similar to Shakespeare's sonnet as it also includes a witty reversal of meaning. It uses a broken rhythm to suggest the pauses of natural speech. It uses the same rhyme scheme as Shakespeare sonnet which is a, b, a, b, c, d, c, d, e, f, e, f, g, g. It is also a Shakespearian sonnet written in the Shakespearian period. Dayton uses simple, colloquial language and commands such as 'come'; "Since there's no help, come, let us kiss and part". He uses great emphasis to emphasize his point and too perhaps convince himself;

"And I am glad, yea, glad with all my heart". He also very formally addresses the lady as 'you'. Then definite formal parting is suggested; "Shake hands forever, cancel all our vows" and he urges her to make a break. Then the sonnet seems to change meaning and be at an elaborate death bed scene. Love, passion, faith and innocence are all given human characteristics; "Now at the last gasp of Love's latest breath, When his pulse is failing, Passion speechless lies, When Faith is kneeling by his bed of Death, And Innocence is closing up his eyes".

The use of capital letters for 'Love' 'Passion' 'Faith' and 'Innocence' also suggests that they are people. The last rhyming couplet is a clever paradox which in fact is the real Volta of the Sonnet makes an intimate appeal to breath life back into their love; "Now if thou wouldst, when all have given him over, From death to Life, thou might'st him yet recover. " He now addresses the lady as 'thou' which suggest intimacy. The final sonnet 'Sonnet 93' by E. Barrett Browning is almost totally different to the other two sonnets by Shakespeare and Drayton.

This sonnet is unconventional as it is a sincere love poem from a woman to man rather than man to woman. It doesn't include a Volta so it suggests consistency of the love. It is also written in the Victorian period and in the form of a petrarchan sonnet whereas the other two sonnets are Shakespearian. It is similar to 'Shall I compare thee' as it starts with a question; "How do I love thee? " However this is a sincere question as E. Barrett Browning say's; "Let me count the ways. " She then expresses her love in terms of measurement; "I love thee to the depth breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight" which suggests she loves her husband to every measurement used to calculate volume. E. Barrett Browning uses volume to express her love because the calculation is of a three dimensional shape which signifies her lover and she loves him to every corner, part and dimension. The use of the word 'soul' signifies the sincerity of her love for him. The next line suggests E. Barrett Browning's love is eternal until the end of time and the use of the word 'Grace' suggests a spiritual connection with god; "For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

" E. Barrett Browning also suggests she loves him every minute of the day 'by sun and candle-light. ' She also suggests that she loves him for the right reasons; "I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;" This suggests that she does not love him for money, physical appearance or praise and reward. This differs from Shakespeare's sonnet as Shakespeare mentions a great deal about physical appearance in his sonnet. The last line in the section portrays that E. Barrett Browning loves Robert Browning in a pure disinterested way; "I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise. "

Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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Comparison of Sonnets of Drayton, Shakespeare and Browning. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from

Comparison of Sonnets of Drayton, Shakespeare and Browning essay
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