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Research Papers that Explore Sonnets

A sonnet is a poetic form of a specific number of lines with a tightly controlled rhyme scheme. The writers at Paper Masters can help explicate any sonnet you need explained. Custom writing is what our literature writers do and sonnets are a specialty of these talented academics.

Sonnets were invented by the Italian poet Giacomo Da Lentini in the 13th century. The original form of the sonnet, now known as the Petrarchan sonnet, contains two stanzas, that when put together formed an “argument.” This form is named after the most famous medieval Italian poet, Petrarch, but others including Dante also wrote sonnets.Sonnet

A Petrarchan sonnet consists of the following:

  1. An octave (eight lines) that forms the proposition of the argument
  2. A sestet (six lines) that proposes a resolution to the problem.

In English, the sonnet was adopted and made famous by William Shakespeare. Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets, all of which contain three quatrains, four line stanzas, followed by a couplet. Shakespearean sonnets were always composed in iambic pentameter, which is the same poetic meter he used in his plays.

Sonnets fell out of fashion after Shakespeare, reappearing during the French Revolution. British romantic poet Wordsworth wrote numerous sonnets. Once poets began adopting free verse in the 19th century, the sonnet was seen as a somewhat quaint and old-fashioned poetic form. Many modern poets, including e.e. cummings, wrote sonnets, indicating a continued fascination with the form and structure. Some modern poets even write word sonnets, which have one word per line, which provides for a visual impact.

Notes about Several Specific Sonnets

Shakespeare’s sonnets, taken together, emulate some of the elements that his most important English predecessors emphasized in their own cycles. Both Sir Philip Sydney and Edmund Spenser composed long, narrative sonnet cycles, replete with psychological complexity, intricate narrative arcs, and three-dimensional characterization.  Like both of these sonnet cycles, Shakespeare’s sonnets discuss a love relationship of sorts, dwelling on the interrelationship between a number of characters. However, where Spenser and Sidney both paid attention to ensuring that their sonnet cycles adhered for the most part to the principles and issues of decorum set forth by the Italian masters of the form, Shakespeare’s sonnets differ in several key regards, the most overt being the identity of the beloved to whom the sonnets are addressed.

Where both Sidney and Spenser direct their sonnets towards a single desired lover, Shakespeare’s sonnets have three principal addressees. These include a young man, a “dark lady,” and a rival poet. Particularly the presence of the male addressee has caused critics consternation for hundreds of years. This paper represents an attempt to present an overview of the role of transgressive sexual desire in Shakespeare’s sonnets, with particular attention paid to the role that the apparent homoeroticism expressed in the sonnets plays.

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