Uploaded by Dorothy Ingram

Shakespeare Sonnets structure

• What is “iambic pentameter?”
• A.) A single file line of five people,
each person with two feet.
• B.) A ten syllable line, consisting of
five iambic feet.
• What is a “sonnet?”
• A.) a poem consisting 10 lines.
• B.) a poem consisting of 14 lines
• What are the main types of sonnets?
• A.) English and Italian
• B.) Shakespearean and Petrarchan
• C.) Both A and B.
• What is a poetic “foot?”
• A.) the most important line in the
• B.) The last line in a poem
• C.) A group of two syllables.
Pretest continued
• Identify the following as true or false.
An Octave is a sentence with eight syllables.
A Quatrain is a stanza of four lines.
The sestet is found at the end of the sonnet.
“Volta” is another name for the title.
A couplet is a group of three lines.
What is a Sonnet?
• A very structured type of poetry in which the
author attempts to show two related but
differing things to the reader in order to
communicate something about them.
• Developed in Italy, probably in the
thirteenth century.
Sonnets (cont.)
• Almost always consists of fourteen lines and
follows one of several set rhyme schemes:
• English (Shakespearean)
• Italian (Petrarchan)
• Spenserian
Sonnet Vocabulary
• Quatrain:
• A stanza of four lines.
• Octave:
• An eight line stanza. Used primarily to denote
the first eight-line division of the Italian
Sonnet as separate from the last six-line
division, the sestet.
Vocab. (cont.)
• Sestet:
• The second six-line division of an Italian Sonnet.
Following the eight-line division (octave), the
sestet usually makes specific a general statement
that has been presented in the octave or indicates
the personal emotion of the author in a situation
that the octave has developed.
• Volta:
• The turn in thought– from question to answer,
problem to solution– that occurs at the beginning
of the sestet (line 9) in the Italian sonnet.
Sometimes occurs in the English sonnet between
the twelfth and thirteenth lines. Marked by “but,”
“yet,” or “and yet.”
Italian Sonnets (Petrarchan)
• Distinguished by its
division into the
octave and sestet:
• The octave rhyming
• The sestet rhyming
cdecde, cdcdcd or
More on Italian Sonnets…
• The octave typically:
• Presents a narrative
• States a proposition
• Or raises a question
• The sestet:
• drives home the
narrative by making an
abstract comment
• applies the proposition
• or solves the problem.
English Sonnets (Shakespearean)
• Four divisions are used:
• Three quatrains
• Each with a rhyme scheme of its own, usually
rhyming alternating lines.
• And a rhymed concluding couplet.
• The typical rhyme scheme is
• Abab cdcd efef gg
English (cont.)
• each quatrain develops a specific idea, but
one closely related to the ideas in the other
• Not only is the English sonnet the easiest in
terms of its rhyme scheme, calling for only
pairs of rhyming words rather than groups of
4, but it is the most flexible in terms of the
placement of the volta. Shakespeare often
places the "turn," as in the Italian, at L9
• The Spenserian sonnet, invented by Edmund
Spenser, complicates the Shakespearean
form, linking rhymes among the quatrains:
• Abab bcbc cdcd ee
• there does not appear to be a requirement that the
initial octave sets up a problem that the closing
sestet "answers", as is the case with a Petrarchan
• The Spenserian Sonnet is very rare among
modern poets.
Identify the Type of Sonnet
• The spring returns, the spring wind softly blowing
Sprinkles the grass with gleam and glitter of showers,
Powdering pearl and diamond, dripping with flowers,
Dropping wet flowers, dancing the winters going;
The swallow twitters, the groves of midnight are glowing
With nightingale music and madness; the sweet fierce powers
Of love flame up through the earth; the seed-soul towers
And trembles; nature is filled to overflowing…
The spring returns, but there is no returning
Of spring for me. O heart with anguish burning!
She that unlocked all April in a breath
Returns not…And these meadows, blossoms, birds
These lovely gentle girls—words, empty words
As bitter as the black estates of death!
Identify the Type of Sonnet
• Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.
Iambic Pentameter
• Iambic Pentameter is the rhythm and meter in
which poets and playwrights wrote in Elizabethan
England. Shakespeare is known for his iambic
• It sounds like this: dee
DUM, dee DUM, dee
DUM, dee DUM, dee
DUM. It consists of a line
of five iambic feet, ten
syllables with five
unstressed and five
stressed syllables. It is the
first and last sound we
ever hear, it is the
rhythm of the human
heart beat.
• An ‘iamb’ is ‘dee Dum’ – it is the heart beat.
• Penta is from the Greek for five.
• Meter is really the pattern
So, there are five iambs per line!
(Iambic penta meter )
• It is percussive and
attractive to the ear and
has an effect on the
listener's central nervous
system. An example of
pentameter from
Shakespeare: but SOFT
what LIGHT through
YONder WINdow
William Shakespeare