Difference between English and Italian Sonnet (With Table)

Sonnet is a universal type of poetry. A sonnet is a poem with a specified rhyming scheme and has a rhythmical, almost song-like pronunciation to it while elucidating.

A sonnet is of six types, two of which are English sonnet, Italian sonnet They are differentiated mainly based on their rhyming scheme and the structure or the division of the lines.

An English sonnet, also known as Shakespearean sonnet was first made in the early 16 A.D. Though Shakespeare was not the one to first write an English sonnet, he was the most renowned one and therefore, the sonnet was named after him.

An Italian sonnet can also be called Petrarchan sonnet and was first made at the beginning of 11 A.D. Much like the English sonnet, the Italian sonnet was also not first written by Petrarch but was named so because he was the most renowned Italian sonnet writer of the time.

The difference between English Sonnet and Italian Sonnet is the structuring of the lines. Since all the sonnets have only 14 lines, the Italian sonnet has an octet(8 lines) and a sestet(6 lines) whereas the English sonnet has 3 quatrains(4 lines) and 1 couplet( 2 lines).

Comparison Table Between English Sonnet and Italian Sonnet

Parameters of ComparisonEnglish SonnetItalian Sonnet
Alternate nameShakespearean sonnetPetrarchan sonnet
Origin16 A.D.11 A.D.
Line distributionQuatrains(4 lines) and a couplet(2 lines)Octets(8 lines) and sestets(6 lines)
Structure of a sonnetThe first two quatrains have the problem while the third quatrain and the couplet have the solutionThe octet introduces the problem while the sestet tells the solution
RhymingIt is relatively easy to find the rhymeIt is hard to rhyme because it was originally made for the Italian language
Position of voltaThird quatrainNinth line

What is an English Sonnet?

An English sonnet first made at the beginning of 16th A.D.

RECOMMENDED
Difference Between IAS and IPS (With Table)

The main characteristics of the English sonnet are the line distribution of 3 quatrains of 4 lines each and a couplet of 2 lines.

The first quatrain introduces the problem while the second quatrain elaborates the same. The third quatrain gives the solution and the rhyming couplet concludes the sonnet. This is the basic structure followed by an English sonnet.

It was named after William Shakespeare as Shakespearean sonnet as he was a renowned English sonnet writer. He has volumes of books of self-written sonnets with beautifully constructed rhyming schemes. One of his famous sonnet work is the drama ‘Romeo and Juliet’

english sonnet

What is an Italian Sonnet?

An Italian sonnet was first made in the 11th A.D. much earlier than the English sonnet.

The Italian sonnet, unlike the English sonnet, has only two parts: an octet of 8 lines and a sestet of 6 lines.

Like any other sonnet, Italian sonnet also addresses a problem and poses a solution to it through the intricate and specified rhyming scheme. The octet introduces and explains the problem whereas the sestet enunciates the solution to it. They do not have concluding lines.

It is also called as Petrarchan sonnet named after the great Italian sonnet writer Petrarch. It is relatively more difficult to find English words fitting the Italian sonnet rhyming scheme because it was originally made to be written in the Italian language.

italian sonnet

Main Differences Between English Sonnet and Italian Sonnet

  1. Though both the sonnets have an alternate name, they differ because they are named after different people. While the English sonnet is named after Shakespeare as the Shakespearean sonnet, the Italian sonnet is named after Petrarch, an Italian sonnet writer, as Petrarchan sonnet.
  2. Italian sonnet was first made at early 11 A.D. This was much before the English sonnet that made its first appearance at the beginning of 16th A.D.
  3. The key difference between the two sonnets is their line distribution or structure. An Italian sonnet has one octet of 8 lines and one sestet of 6 lines, making 14 lines in total. An English sonnet has 3 quatrains of 4 lines and one couplet of 2 lines, again totalling to 14 lines.
  4. Since the line distribution of the two sonnets is different, the structuring would also be different. Unlike in Italian sonnet where the octet introduces the problem and the sestet poses the solution, in an English sonnet the first two quatrains talk about the problem while the third quatrain poses the solution and the couplet are two rhyming lines that conclude the sonnet.
  5. It is relatively easier to find a rhyming scheme and the right words for an English sonnet while writing in English. This is because the Italian sonnet was originally first made to be written in the Italian language and finding the words to match the rhyming scheme of the sonnet can be difficult.
  6. The position of volta is also different for the two sonnets. While it is found in the third quatrain in an English sonnet, it is found in the 9th line of the Italian sonnet(or the first line of the sestet).
RECOMMENDED
Difference Between Counselor and Psychologist (With Table)

Conclusion

Even though all sonnets14 lines, the sonnets are classified based on their approach to the problem through their line distribution and structures of the sonnets.

The Italian sonnet was first made in the 11th A.D. The distribution of the Italian sonnet was an octet of 8 lines and a sestet of 6 lines. It is hard to find the rhyming words for an Italian sonnet because it was originally made to be written in Italian and not in English.

The English sonnet was first made at the beginning of 16th A.D., much later from the first Italian sonnet. The line structure of an English sonnet is 3 quatrains of 4 lines each and a couplet with the rhyming scheme aa. It is also called as a Shakespearean sonnet, named after William Shakespeare.

The point that marks the main difference between the English sonnet and the Italian sonnet is the structure of the two sonnets. While the Italian sonnet addresses the problem in the octet, the English sonnet introduces the problem in the first quatrain and elaborates it in the second quatrain.

References

  1. http://search.proquest.com/openview/c696cda3a2795d3ea7576b7f18f99d56/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=1816494
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=ZFMOAAAAIAAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=English+and+Italian+Sonnet&ots=atTNI4U6lv&sig=ygIK0KiI3o4UZLdjnOE408XL9V4