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The Role of The Time in Shakespearian Sonnets

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The one word that is repeated in Shakespearian sonnets is the word “time.” All through the works, and particularly towards the beginning, Shakespeare tries to depict the glorified excellence of the male object of the sonnets, however continually alluding to the way that such magnificence will shrivel and blur with the progression of time. Time is such a key subject of the greater part of his works that he either tries to deify his adorer’s magnificence in his verse. He compares time to a supplier and taker of youth and resists its unavoidable appropriation by retaining his consideration in adapting immaculate verse which shouts and mimics his love’s excellence and gives a habitation to it inside the limits of his words. Time to Shakespeare is an authority, a deity, a part of life which can’t be changed.

In many of the Sonnets, Shakespeare portrays time as an authority. In Sonnet 126 it shows us how time battles with nature, a good example is the lover said. “If Nature, sovereign mistress over wrack,/ As thou goest onwards, still will pluck thee back” (5-6). He states that even though nature needs to keep up with his lover’s youth, time is owed his due and nature will eventually have “to render thee”. He gives time human attributes which then makes it easier to figure out why beauty has to fade and in the end, pass on. In Sonnet 15, Shakespeare shows time as the foe to beauty, “Where wasteful Time debateth with Decay/ To change your day of youth to sullied night,/ And all in war with Time for love of you” (11-12). Shakespeare is stating that time and decay is debating on how it can corrupt his lover’s youth, and that he is basically trying to tell his lover that he will protect his lover from the wrath of Time.

Time is seen as an authority, however now Shakespeare perceives Time as a deity, one with the ability to give and take life. In Sonnet 126, Shakespeare clearly states “And Time that gave doth now his gift confound” (8) Time is the cultivator and reaper of beauty and youth, “And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow” (12). As you can see Time is mentioned twice, Shakespeare is realizing that Time is somewhat like a god, saying that it is the creator and destroyer of beauty and youth. Also in Sonnet 126, the personified time utilizes a sickle to procure his collect. This metaphor for time is greedy, hurried, and unbiased. It reclaims creation after its pinnacle and delivers it once again. Shakespeare is involved with this devastation of beauty and youth and wishes to intercede with catching their characters essences before they are lost to time. Since his Sonnets have demonstrated fit to bear the trial of time. He succeeded in protecting this beauty in its purest possible form using poetry.

Lastly in many of Shakespeare’s sonnets he uses time in a way to show how it’s a part of life that can’t. In sonnet 18 Shakespeare states “and summer’s lease hath all too short a date”(4). Through this quote, we can start to get an understanding of what Shakespeare is trying to portray, which is life is too short and that there’s not enough time to do everything we love. This quote not only states that there isn’t enough time but, it’s another way of Shakespeare emphasizing his eternal love. Also in sonnet 18, Shakespeare quotes “rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,”(3). As you can see in this quote the rough winds are time and the buds are people. This quote alone is able to explain how time is something you can’t control in life and that all you can do is live life as time goes on. It’s also stating that time is inevitable and no matter how hard we try we can never escape it. Its apart of our life which can never be changed. This quote really does stress the idea on how time an unchangeable part of our life.

In conclusion, time is the most important word throughout Shakespeare’s sonnets because it has a lot of meaning, it isn’t only known as a continued progress of events from the past, present and future but, rather is it an authority, deity and apart of life that can never be changed and we were able to see all of those throughout Shakespeare’s sonnets.

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The role of the time in Shakespearian sonnets. (2018, December 17). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 29, 2022, from
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