[PDF Notes] What are the common features of Elizabethan sonnet?

A study of the Elizabethan sonnet reveals the following common features:

1. They appear in sequences and not singly.

2. They are generally written merely because it is the fashion to write sonnets. Most of them are artificial.

3. The Petrarch and convention is generally followed, and often the conventional phraseology of Petrarch is used. The lady is always shown as cold and cruel, and the lover frequently on the point of death.

4. There is imitation, often even translation of foreign models, more specially French and Italian.

5. There is often mingling of the conventional and the independent the original and imitated.

6. The English form of the sonnet is generally used after Sidney.

7. Their theme is always loved, generally for a married lady. This lady in most cases is merely the creation of the poet’s imagination.

8. They are characterised by excess of imagination. The poet is of imagination all compact, flies high on the wings of imagination and sees, “Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt.”

9. The best Elizabethan connect is extremely musical. It is characterized by perfection of form. But the rank and file of sonneteers are crude, clumsy, artificial and unnatural, and excite laughter than admiration.

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