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Shakespeare, William – Life and Works

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1564. He was baptized in the church on April 26 but he may have been born on the 23rd, St George’s Day which is also said to be the day of his death. Some information regarding his life are just hypotheses.
His father, a wool seller, had a large family, 8 children in all, and although William was his first child, he did not give him a very good education other than his employment. William attended the local grammar school where he learned a little Latin but his father was forced to withdraw him due to his difficult financial situation. This is possible because in the works of Shakespeare we hardly find traces of an imitation of the classics. He later married Anne Hathaway although he was only 18 and marries him 8 more to him. In 1584 he left his home and went to London, probably because he had been taken by the hunter. It was at that time that he is said to have made his first acquaintance with the theater. He was received in one of the companies with a modest position compared to the first, his admirable intelligence soon distinguished him if not as an actor as an excellent writer. In 1593 the London theaters closed due to the plague and Shakespeare needed the support of a private patron. He obtained it from a young nobleman, the Earl of Southampton, to whom he dedicated his sonnets. When the theaters reopened Shakespeare became a shareholder and principal playwright of London’s most popular troupe of actors, Mr Ciamberlane’s men. In 1599 his company built the Globe Theater, where many of his works were performed. The last part of his life was spent in retirement in Stratford. He died at 52 and was buried in the local church. 7 years after his death some friends and actors who knew him published an edition of 36 of his performances in a single volume: the famous First Folio.

Sonnets – Themes and recipients

The sonnets can be divided into two sections: the first addressed to the handsome young man probably the young patron of Shakespeare the Earl of Southampton and is organized as follows:
• Sonnets from I to XVIII are dedicated to the theme of growth: the poet exhorts the young man to marry and preserve his virtues through his children.
• Sonnets from XVIII to CXXVI these deal with the poet’s warnings about the destructive power of time and moral weakness with different themes. It is interesting to note that time is no longer a theme but an excellent antagonist and that the celebration of the beloved expresses a meditation on art and morality. This group of sonnets concern a rival poet who gave poems to the young man. The second part of these sonnets is addressed to a dark dreamer who although her ugly appearance is irresistibly desirable. The choice of the recipient is new and breaks with the courtesan tradition of Petrarch. The situations suggested in the sonnets are the means to explore universal themes such as time, death, love, beauty and art. They are also unique in the analysis of the distinct elements in emotions of complexities and human feelings.


Shakespeare’s sonnets were published in 1609 although they were probably written in 1590. the collection includes 154 decasyllable sonnets made up of 3 quatrains and a rhymed couplet.
Shakespeare did not use the French or Italian form (an octave and a sestina) but used the new one of the three quatrains and the couplet. However, the development of the arguments in many of his sonnets marks the structure of two sonnets of the Petrarcan form since there is a turning point in thought in the ninth verse.


The style of the sonnets is characterized by a rich and lively descriptive language, the effective use of rhymes, the adaptation of stress to the movement of emotions and the multitude of cultural references

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