Professor Helen Hackett argues Shakespeare's mastery of the sonnet takes us beyond poetic convention and beyond realism towards a higher truth about love.
In the fourth in our series of Shakespeare and Love essays, Professor Helen Hackett reflects on the enduring power of Shakespeare's sonnets to express the essence of love. She explains how Shakespeare refashioned this popular fourteen line poem in iambic pentameter with a fixed rhyme into one of his most powerful tools for capturing the spirit of love. Professor Hackett begins by examining the love sonnet spoken by Romeo and Juliet and how, like so many of his poems, it creates a moment of extreme unreality. Time stands still as the protagonists pour out their hearts in a sonnet that takes us beyond poetic convention and beyond realism to tell us the truth about love.