1026: Compare and Contrast

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Compare and Contrast
Frankly, I see no difference between thee and a summer's day. Only Ron Paul offers a TRUE alternative!
Title text: Frankly, I see no difference between thee and a summer's day. Only Ron Paul offers a TRUE alternative!


A reference to the most well-known sonnet in the English-speaking world: William Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18", the first line of which is: "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?". In this comic Randall sets about this in a typically purposeful chart, as opposed to the rather more romantic poetry of the Bard. "Thee" is a form of the archaic second-person singular pronoun "thou". In Shakespeare's day, English had more second-person pronouns in common use, thou/thee (informal and singular, subjective/objective), and ye/you (plural, subjective/objective, or just "you" as the formal singulars). This is similar to second-person pronouns in many modern European languages, such as French. Wikipedia has a nice chart for all of English's personal pronouns, current and archaic.

For both the chart and the original sonnet, whether or not the work is autobiographical is unknown. Also unknown is the identity of the person whom each work refers to. It is believed that Sonnet 18 is addressed to a young man.

  1. The first line is a reference to the sonnet itself, which reads: "Thou art more lovely and more temperate". He considers both thee and a summer's day to be "fair" (this is a pun; depending on context, "fair" can refer to complexion or weather) and "temperate" (meaning "warm", which again can describe a person or the weather).
  2. "Hot, sticky" also refers to both, in different ways. "Hot" can mean sexually attractive or simply that the temperature is high. "Sticky" refers to either a humid day (for summer day) or to be covered in sweat and other bodily fluids (mainly from ejaculation after sex for "thee").
  3. "Short" is another pun. "Thee" (the subject of the comparison with the summer's day) is not tall. Alternatively if “Thee” is male it could refer to their primary sexual organ. This is typically seen as a bad quality. In line 8 "Thee" is attributed another bad quality. A summer day is chronologically long (time from dawn to dusk.)
  4. "Harbinger of hurricane season" is technically accurate; hurricane season does follow the summer.
  5. "Required for a good beach party" is not a pun, although it is another example of a word with slightly different meanings. The party is required to be held on a summer's day and with "thee" present at the party. The party would not be held on "thee", although some of the other lines suggest that the writer might personally be on top of "thee" during the party.
  6. Heat stroke is a condition mainly affecting children and the elderly. Heat waves and excessively hot days are highly linked with heat stroke incidence
  7. "Linked to higher rates of juvenile delinquency" refers to juveniles committing crimes. Apparently, "thee" is either a juvenile delinquent or inspires juvenile delinquency (or both). Summer is also linked to juvenile delinquency. This results, to some degree, from school not being in session, rather than simply as a direct result of the summer weather.
  8. "Sometimes too stifling" can refer to the weather - oppressive heat and humidity, or a person that is overly oppressive and constraining. It is also unusual in that it expresses a negative feeling about "thee", unlike the other entries which express what the author likes or admires about thee.
  9. "Arrested for releasing snakes in the library" is a fairly self-explanatory criterion. Apparently "thee" has been caught doing this. A summer's day, on the other hand, cannot be arrested at all,[citation needed] much less for this. This is possibly inspired by the movie Snakes on a Plane.
  10. The last line "difficult to focus on work while I'm in" is probably a sexual reference, on the "thee" side, not on the "summer's day" side. To be "in" someone refers to the penetrative part of sex, which would occupy a typical person's attention,[citation needed] or that while she is around the house it can be difficult to focus of work. Summer can be distracting from work due to heat, excitement, or just the general feeling of the season.

The title text is a reference to Ron Paul, a 2012 Republican candidate for President who was on top in the Republican Primary against a few other challengers for the nomination. Ron Paul was frequently represented on the internet using similar language to the title text (with Paul offering an alternative to typical Republican and Democratic candidates). Paul was seen by many as an alternative because of his Libertarian views.


[A checklist comparing "thee" to "a summer's day" for a number of properties, displayed as separate rows in a table with 3 columns. The properties are shown in the first column with no header label, and the second and third columns have a header label of "Thee" and "A Summer's Day" with a checkmark in one or both columns for each row.]
[Row 1]
Property: Fair, Temperate
Thee: Checked
A Summer's Day: Checked
[Row 2]
Property: Hot, Sticky
Thee: Checked
A Summer's Day: Checked
[Row 3]
Property: Short
Thee: Checked
A Summer's Day: Not Checked
[Row 4]
Property: Harbinger of Hurricane Season
Thee: Not Checked
A Summer's Day: Checked
[Row 5]
Property: Required for a Good Beach Party
Thee: Checked
A Summer's Day: Checked
[Row 6]
Property: Major Cause of Heat Stroke in the Elderly
Thee: Not Checked
A Summer's Day: Checked
[Row 7]
Property: Linked to Higher Rates of Juvenile Delinquency
Thee: Checked
A Summer's Day: Checked
[Row 8]
Property: Sometimes Too Stifling
Thee: Checked
A Summer's Day: Checked
[Row 9]
Property: Arrested for Releasing Snakes in Library
Thee: Checked
A Summer's Day: Not Checked
[Row 10]
Property: Difficult to Focus on Work While I'm In
Thee: Checked
A Summer's Day: Checked

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Commenter J. Curwen posted a link to a modern paraphrasing of Sonnet 18. I think it would be appropriate to repost it here. http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/18detail.html lcarsos (talk) 17:58, 16 August 2012 (UTC)

Shakespeare woos Randall with charts? Holy ambiguous dependent, Batman! - Frankie (talk) 12:47, 26 January 2013 (UTC)

I prefer to believe that thou art in fact harbinger of hurricane season, and a major cause of heatstroke in the elderly ;) PotatoGod (talk) 05:26, 22 December 2017 (UTC)

Are we sure that Sonnet 18 is *the* most famous sonnet? Is opening the explanation in this way a subtle reference to xkcd 1368 ("one of the most recognisable arches in St. Louis")? 04:47, 12 January 2024 (UTC)