"Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer's Day?"

Reading Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 for the first time one may assume this sonnet is about comparing love to a summer’s day or someone’s lover. This sonnet is indeed a love poem, but it is about writing a love poem. The way Shakespeare uses rhetoric in this poem is through the first line: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”  The key is the word “thee” and the answer is no. Shakespeare uses comparison of a summer’s day to “thee” or the poem. As the poem flows into the second quatrain, he is describing a summer’s day and why it is a wonderful thing to be compared to. Finally in quatrain three the Volta occurs with the line: “But thy eternal summer shall not fade.” This line is what separates the “thee” from a summer’s day. Shakespeare is saying here that the poem is not like the summer and it does not have to fear death. The couplet of the poem tells exactly what Shakespeare is stating at the Volta. The couplet ends with him declaring that as long as there are people on this earth, you or the poem will be immortal. 


In all the argument in this sonnet could be an argument between Shakespeare the author to his reader, or between Shakespeare and the “thee” which is his poem. Analyzing this from an argument and persuasion concerning Shakespeare and his audience, his argument could be is a summer’s day better than “thee,” the poem. With the first line he begins his argument by asking can the two be compared to one another. Then he backs his argument by describing a summer's day and then ends with an answer by persuading the reader with his Volta and couplet by saying “no,” that the poem is immortal and summer is something that will fade. With this said he ultimately persuades his reader that a poem is without a doubt better than a summer’s day. Summer is seasonal and will die when its time has come to an end, but as long as there is someone on earth that can read a poem shall never die.

            Among the argument with Shakespeare and the “thee” or poem itself, Shakespeare may have wanted to persuade the “thee” that it does not have to worry about death. Shakespeare could have just used the first line as an example and quick reassurance to the poem. By asking the first line Shakespeare could and did at that point say “no.” He used the second quatrain as a type of comfort as to say yes there are some similarities. Then he use the word “but,” this is truly the turning point where he is saying yes you two can be compared, but you can outlive a summer’s day and you are immortal so death should not be a worry to “thee.” In my opinion from this angle Shakespeare sounds like a man who is trying to persuade another that they should have no worry especially death since life is forever promised to them.