Shakespeare’s Macro-Sonnets

2018-10-07T22:06:45Z (GMT) by John Christopher Bigelow
This thesis offers a unifying explanation of numerous previously puzzling thematic and formal patterns in Shakespeare's "Sonnets" (1609). The overall sequence of 154 sonnets can be understood as comprising eleven sub-sequences, or "macro-sonnets", which structurally mirror a canonical sequence of Renaissance musical scales. Formal anomalies in the sonnets align neatly with notorious discords with the tonic in those corresponding musical scales. This poetic mirroring, within the microcosm of a sonnet sequence, of the macrocosmic "music of the spheres" casts a productive new light on the relationship between music theory and the history of both the Arts and the Sciences.