As a test of ChatGPT’s creativity, we asked it to write a Shakespearean sonnet about how to go viral on TikTok. Then we asked Robert Stagg of the Shakespeare Institute to weigh in on how the chatbot fared. What do you think: Did ChatGPT create a decent sonnet?
In this fair age, where sights and sounds doth flow,
And all desire to be seen, to be known,
A task most lofty, doth before us show,
To rise on TikTok, and make our fame grow.
First, a catchy tune, and dance doth prime,
To capture hearts and minds, and make them stay,
But with a wit, and timing most sublime,
Thy video, shall reach fame in short delay.
With perfect light, and camera set just right,
Thy visage, and the scene, shall be most fair,
And keep the filming steady, with all might,
To give the audience a vision most rare.
Lastly, thy hashtags, and caption doth matter,
To reach the widest audience, like scatter.
Stagg’s Critique: What we have here is the skeleton of Shakespearean sonnet form without any of its living tissue. The rhyme scheme is exact and methodical, and the metre is mostly a regular iambic pentameter—albeit with some awkward shuffles of trisyllabic meter early in the sonnet. However, there is no originality, or even freshness, of thought and expression, and the sonnet’s clichés (“capture hearts and minds”) are among the most tedious the language can offer. Only the final words “like scatter” elicit any interest, with their slightly nonsensical air, but they seem to be present only to make up the rhyme. Despite the faux-antiquated flourishes (“Thy visage”), there is otherwise nothing in this sonnet to interest the ears or the brain.