A Critical Analysis Of To My Books By Caroline Norton

Table of Content

To My Books is structured into three quatrains and a rhyming couplet and is written in iambic pentameter. Norton uses the sonnet’s structure, rhyme, punctuation and use of diction to create a vehicle for her appreciation of books. The rhyming pattern is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG.

The three quatrains are used to express Norton’s appreciation for the books, she then summarises these feelings using the rhyming couplet. This simple rhyming pattern encourages the reader to recite the sonnet slowly creating a “tranquil” tone.The punctuation in the sonnet is used to create different effects, it highlights key words such as: “friends” and “silent companions” yet, it also controls the tempo. The enjambement of lines five and six, persuades the reader to increase their speed; this reflects the poets “wrought” “spirit” and contrasts with the poet’s calmer mood in line 14: “on these, my unripe musings, told so well” which is expressed through the caesura created through punctuation.

The overall tone of the sonnet is appreciation, which Norton lavishes her “friends” the books with. Through her choice of diction, Norton romanticises the sonnet, allowing the reader to confuse this, with a sonnet intended for a lover. The books are personified as “friends” and “silent companions” whilst time is attributed with emotions so that it becomes a “lonely hour”. Norton talks directly to the books: “Let me return to you”, and uses gentle words such as: “tranquil” “friendly” and “musing”.

Norton also euphemises negative words such as: “unripe” and “inconstant”. This use of diction imbues the books with the adoration and love that is typical of the exchanges between lovers. To My Books, as a performance, would be categorised as a soliloquy; the sonnet is used as a vehicle for Norton’s thoughts and feelings to be expressed and is comparable to Shakespeare’s sonnets.In order to effectively communicate Norton’s emotions, the sonnet is structured as three quatrains and a rhyming couplet and does not contain a specific Volta.

The overall tone of the sonnet is adoration and appreciation, which are often significant components of a sonnet to a lover. Norton creates this tone through her use of rhyme and punctuation, which is used to reduce the tempo creating a languescent response, and her gentle use of diction where personification and words such as: “tranquil” and “musings” produce a romantic effect.

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