Kevin J M Keane

Antithesis, Chiasmus, and Symmetry in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 105


In this article, I argue that Shakespeare might just as well have written sonnet 105 from its centre using a chiastic blueprint as a guide. Such a bueprint presupposes that the writing of a sonnet start with its line eight to then unfold line by line alternately about it. As to evidence, I first reconstruct sonnet 105 by way of its antithetical arguments and the chiasmi that articulate them. From this reconstruction, I then deduce a chiastic model that describes the emergence of equivalents of the Shakespearean sonnet’s formal characteristics and the aesthetic and near-congruent symmetries that underlie and relate them. Informed by these findings, I offer a short, speculative, chiastic-orientated narrative analysis of sonnet 105 as a complement and supplement to traditional linear readings.

PDF: Antithesis, Chiasmus, and Symmetry in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 105