Shakespearian sonnets, 154 in number, can be viewed from different perspectives.
The collection can be viewed as a communicative block (a story of a poet & his predicament) encompassing other overlapping stories about Love, Time, Friendship, each having a pivot & being represented as a web of utterances (also communicative blocks) related to the pivot.
It’s a story of a person’s life in all its complexity. It’s the story of his attitude to life as such. He is very much afraid of death, of time, being a man of renaissance epoch he cannot bear any limitations. For him Time is an unsurpassable limitation. You don’t know where & when your time comes.
In some sonnets he shows how embarrassed he is. He doesn’t know what to do, so he sets a program, which has to fight these limitations. He invents certain means. First, it’s his verses which can save not only him but also his beloved. Person may die but the sonnets remain. And these sonnets can make his image, his friend, his epoch immortal.
Then he comes to a conclusion that children may save a person from decay. You can see your youth reflecting in your children. This is the image of ever young humanity. Then he is not satisfied with the means he has already invented. He understands that eternity itself stands against time, because eternity is dateless. He is quite a philosopher; he says that in eternity there is no point of departure. All is relative. That what his sonnets show.
He also speaks about friendship. He shows us that everyone, no matter he wants it or not, has a proprietorial instinct. Everyone becomes jealous & vindictive, everyone betrays & is betrayed: and it’s natural. He suffers but treats all these as inevitable. He understands that the only remedy for everyone is altruism? When you are able to give what you have to a person you love.
“The more I give to thee the more I have” (“Romeo & Juliet”)
He knows that conflict is one of the most important driving forces of life & the collection may be treated dialectically. It manifests itself not only as a clash of ideas, opinions, feelings, but ensures stability leading to a paradox, & thus bringing about balance as one of the metaconcepts of life. Conflict is not only opposition but a unity: that’s why a paradox occurs.
“Applying fears to hopes & hopes to fears
Still losing when I saw myself to win…”
The cumulative effect of the sonnets on the collection level is thought to be a source of the gradually increasing sense of Beauty; the causes that make it happen are explored on the aforementioned level.
Every sonnet gives us a topic, which is summed up in a couplet, which sometimes contradicts the meaning of the whole sonnet. Still sometimes the couplet confirms the idea put in the body of the sonnet. But all the sonnets give us the idea of Beauty & the word Beauty is seldom used directly. It serves as a background of the surface, the part of an iceberg. It keeps a sonnet afloat. Beauty itself is not a manifestation of human life, appearance, behavior. Shakespeare is great when giving us not only the beautiful, but the ugly also. And the ugly in its turn is a background against which Beauty may be most vividly seen.
Information for Translators
· The sonnets focus on issues the modern reader would find worth discussing, because they exhibit different spheres of human experience (This fact might be important for a translator whose work is addressed to the modern reader).
· The sonnets help the reader to perceive the world holistically to see cause-effect relations & regard the same phenomenon in diverse perspectives.
· The sonnets give the reader the opportunity to explore culture & evaluate it both “horizontally” & “vertically” in a wide context of world culture.
The sonnet is elevated to philosophical level besides being an episode of life. You can see that you’re significant.