9th Honors English - Assignment

Dr. Ray Gen


The Sonnets of William Shakespeare


There are 154 sonnets attributed to William Shakespeare.  The sonnets were probably composed between 1593 and 1601.  The sonnets were published in 1609.


The sonnets are arranged into three groups.  Sonnets 1-126 are addressed to a handsome, young man.  This young man was loved by and admired by Shakespeare.  Sonnets 127-152 involve the "Dark Lady."  This "mistress" of Shakespeare is loved by him even though she is of questionable character.  The last two sonnets are written in the style of a Greek epigram, i.e., a witty, satirical poem.


Two reoccurring themes are found in many of these sonnets.  The first is the thought of mortality and its decay of the body.  The second theme is the thought that immortality is found within poetry.





1.  Choose a sonnet and log your choice with Mr. Gen.


2.  Memorize the sonnet for recitation.


3.  At the time of recitation, introduce the sonnet by telling the audience of the sonnet's theme, content, and your interpretation.


4.  Write an interpretive essay on the sonnet you have chosen.


Guidelines for your Interpretive Essay:




1.  Write a captivating and fascinating introductory paragraph which initiates your reader to the sonnet, your interpretation and your essay.  Be clever, yet academic.  This paragraph(s) should foreshadow your intent and set up your approach to the essay and the sonnet.  This introduction should also provide your reader with the necessary background information if needed.  (You may wish to include a personal insight or experience to orient your reader to the topic at hand.) 


2.  Identify and analyze the message of the sonnet.  What does Shakespeare convey?  Demonstrate the speaker's meaning.  What do you suppose Shakespeare is trying to say through this poem?


3.  Make sure to offer supportive evidence from the text of the sonnet.  Cite the sonnet to support your interpretation.  This is the section in which the argumentation takes place and should be the bulk of the essay.  What specific claims are you making?  Are these claims well argued?


4.  Be convincing and authoritative.  Take a firm stance and argue your position.



Peer Response Guide for Writing an Interpretive Essay


I.  On a separate piece of paper write YOUR name, date and period on the top right corner.


II.  Write "PEER RESPONSE FOR ____________ - Interpretive Essay as the title.  (underline person's name)


III.  Using complete sentences, respond to the writing using the following guide:


1.  Does the author offer an effective introductory paragraph.  State the approach the author takes in the introduction.


2.  Does the title of the essay reflect the content of the essay?  Explain.


3.  Is there a enough background information given?


4.  Identify the specific claims/arguments made by the author?


5.  Does the author treat the entire passage?  What is left out that should be included?


6.  Does the author substantiate these claims by use of the text?


7.  Is the author convincing?


8.  Note errors in grammar. (gr)


9.  Note errors in spelling. (sp)


*10.  Score the writing with points ranging from 0 to 6 (with 6 being the best score.  You may also use + or -).


[Be honest.  Your evaluation is not personal.  You are not saying whether you like the writing or the person.  You are responding to the writing itself based upon the criteria listed above.  Be fair - don't be overly harsh nor overly lenient.  If your evaluation differs radically from mine then you will need to justify your response to me.  YOU WILL RECEIVE A GRADE FOR YOUR EVALUATION.]