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Subject sonnet 29
Posted by lynx
Posted on Sun Mar 19 22:56:42 2000
From IP h54.s151.ts30.hinet.net  

Structuralism concerns how meanings are produced more than what meanings are, and it rather emphasizes overall form and structure than individual textual content. The structural linguistics originated by Ferdinand de Saussure enlightened the structuralism originated by Claude Levi-Strauss. Saussure distinguished langue, the system of language, from parole, the individual utterances. Saussure's emphasis on langue influenced structuralists' concerns with overall structure and form rather than individual textual content.
  I'm going to interpret sonnet 29 of William Shakespeare with A. J. Greimas's three pairs of binary oppositions (Subject/ Object, Sender/ Receiver, and Helper/ Opponent), the binary opposition of desiring/ despising, plosives, repetitions, the two run-on sentences, rhyme.
  People have different interpretations on the three pairs of binary oppositions, and here I'm trying to give mine. The speaker (Subject) desires to be like others and to have their art (Object) and scope (O) on the surface. But actually he searches the elevation of his state (O). I have three interpretations on Sender/ Receiver. One is that the speaker presents these words to his sweet love. The other two come in the situation that this poem is just the mental process of the speaker. In this way, the speaker is both the sender and receiver, or we can say that there is no sender and receiver. As to Helper/ Opponent, I think the speaker and his sweet love both fit in the position of Helper and that there is no real Opponent except for the speaker himself. His state elevates when he thinks on his sweet love, therefore the speaker himself and his sweet love together help him get his desired Object. Fortune, men's eyes and heaven seemingly are the opponents at the beginning of the poem; however, they are only opponents in the speaker's depressed state. The real opponent, in my opinion, was the speaker himself. If he knew not only to admire others but also to really look at himself, he would not be that frustrated and discontented in his state.
  The binary opposition of desiring/ despising also helps to convey meanings throughout the entire poem. The speaker at the beginning desired to be like others and to have their art and scope. Yet in these thoughts he almost despised himself. With his sudden thoughts on his sweet love, he realized that his desired state was what he already had. The only difference was that it was he himself who did not know how to make his state his desired one.
  Plosives in the first quatrain demonstrate the speaker's frustrations, and repetitions in the second quatrain illustrate that the speaker really desires to be like others very much. Plosives are stops in sounds, such as [b], [p], [d], [t], [g] and [k]. We can hear plosives and feel his frustrations in disgrace, outcast state, deaf heaven, bootless cries, look upon and curse. In the second quatrain, the repetitions of "like" and "this man's and that man's" well present his eagerness to be "like" others and to have their art and scope.
  The 14 lines of this sonnet are all end-stopped lines except the 11 and the 13 lines. This reminds me that there might be something significant in these two ending words "arising" and "brings." The run-on sentence ended with "arising" signifies that there is no end for the lark to arise. Another run-on sentence ended with "brings" stands for that the speaker's sweet love brings endless wealth to the speaker.
  The rhyme scheme that dominates Shakespearean sonnet is abab cdcd efef gg. However, the rhyme scheme of this poem is abab cdcd ebeb ff. The over-repeated rhyme [et] forces us to look back at the first two [et], and we find that there are two "state" in these four rhymes. Thus we realize that the over-repeated rhyme functions to emphasize the importance of "state" in this poem. We find differences between this "state" from the "state" above, that is, the "state" of the speaker changed into an arising one from the former outcast one.


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