Preparing for a term paper on Sonnets

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sonnets are a form of poetry which is famous for its use by the most famous playwright of all times, William Shakespeare. Many other poets have employed this beautiful poetic structure but none so much as Shakespeare. While learning English as a language you might only learn it as a part of poetry. But if you are studying English literature as the main subject you will get to do a more detailed study of this form of poetry. You will also do various writing assignments like research papers, essays and term papers on sonnets.

Over time, sonnets evolved into a poetic structure with many branches. According to the slight alterations made by poets who used the style frequently, sonnets got classified further as Italian sonnets, Petrarchan sonnets, English sonnets or Shakespearean sonnets and so on. Even though there were slight differences, the most basic aspects still remain the same in all of them.

While preparing to write a term paper on sonnets or any one of them, there are certain things which you should know about it. The most important feature of a sonnet is its meter which is the ‘iambic pentameter’. Almost all the sonnets have been written under this meter even though there are exceptions, as always. These exceptions always remained exceptions, without getting widely used or formally accepted. Hence iambic pentameter still remains the accepted meter of sonnets. You will find that almost all the traditional sonnets have been written using this meter.

Sonnets are poems of fourteen lines. These fourteen lines are divided into three stanzas of four lines each and one stanza of two lines. They follow a strict rhyme scheme. The Shakespearean sonnets follow a rhyme scheme of abab, cdcd, efef, gg. The last two lines are called the couplets. The other popular rhyme schemes are that of abba, abba, cdcdcd and abab, bcbc, cdcd, ee. While preparing for a term paper on sonnets, it is necessary for you to understand these important aspects of this type of poetry.

Shakespeare is one of the poets who have written the maximum number of sonnets. Besides his collection of sonnets which consists of 154 poems, he also used sonnets to write his plays.

There are many famous sonnets which you will be learning during your literature education. As you learn them, you will also come across certain specific aspects of certain types of sonnets. Your term paper on sonnets need not necessarily be about the technical side of the style. It could also be on any one of the sonnets which is a part of your syllabus. But even if the term paper is focused on the poem, still you are obliged to make a mention of the technical aspects as well in your assignment. This is due to the fact that the style of a poem is one of the main factors which classifies it.

While writing a term paper on sonnets or any one of them, remember that all traditional styles have specific meters and rhyme schemes. Without a thorough understanding of these technical aspects, you will not be able to perform well in your poetry assignments.

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