Critical Analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 01


William Shakespeare


From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty’s rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed’st thy light’s flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.
Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content
And, tender churl, makest waste in niggarding.

Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.


Summary: The sonnet is addressed to the poet’s wonderful friend, whose identity is unknown. He has created 154 sonnets among them first seventeen sonnets are created to address his blossom friend. The first line of the first sonnet takes it as a given that “From fairest creatures we desire increase”—that is, that we want beautiful creatures to multiply, in order to preserve their “beauty’s rose” for the world. By creating this line he has wanted to show that, when the parent dies, the child might continue its beauty.

In the second stanza, the speaker rebukes the young man he loves for being too self-regarding to think of procreation. He is slight to his own bright eyes, and feeds his light with the fuel of his own loveliness. This makes the young man his own unsuspecting enemy, for it makes “a famine where abundance lies,” and hoards all the young man’s beauty for himself.

In the third stanza, he argues that the young man may now be beautiful. His beauty will fade, and he will bury his “gratified” within his flower’s own bud and he will not pass his beauty on; it will weaken with him. Here, the speaker asks the young man to “pity the world” and reproduce, or else be a glutton who, like the grave, eats the beauty he owes to the whole world. So, he suggests his friend to get married and produce child, and continuing his beauties by producing a child.


Themes: In this sonnet he has used many of the themes. Such as: beauty, the passage of human life in time, the ideas of virtue and wasteful self-consumption, and the love the speaker bears for the young man, which causes him to elevate the young man above the whole world, and to consider his procreation a form of “pity” for the rest of the earth. Sonnet 1opens not only the entire sequence of sonnets, but also the first mini-sequence, a group comprising the first seventeen sonnets, often called the “procreation” sonnets because they each urge the young man to bear children as an act of defiance against time.

Logical Structure: The logical structure of this Sonnet is comparatively simple. In the first stanza, he has stated about the moral foundation, in second stanza he has indicted the young man of violating that moral premise, in the third stanza, he has given his blossom friend an urgent reason to change his ways and obey the moral premise. 

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