Poem Analysis of Shakepeare's sonnet 116

Topics: Love, Poetry, Sonnet Pages: 2 (404 words) Published: December 15, 2013
“Analyze a poem of your choice.” (3 points)

Sonnet 116, by William Shakespeare (analysis)

This poem is about love, not between a speaker and his lover, but as a concept or idea. The poem explores what is meant by love, and proposes that, if it is true, love is one of life's constants, which does not change with time or circumstance.

Sonnet 116 uses repeated pairs of words: "love is not love", "alters when it alteration finds" and "remover to remove”, are examples from the first three lines. This mirroring of words is suggestive of a loving couple. As well as pairs of words, there are some opposites and negatives used to stress the qualities of love by saying what it is not: true love can observe storms ("tempests") and not be affected; "Love's not Time's fool". Shakespeare uses metaphors based on natural elements: love "looks on tempests and is never shaken" and "is the star to every wand'ring bark". So love is presented as an essential part of our physical world; it's a fixed point of light in the sky - a "star" - guiding a boat ("wand'ring bark") lost at sea. The opening lines of the poem echo the conventional Christian marriage service, and they stress the idea that love ("the marriage of true minds") should be without "impediments" or barriers and obstacles. These lines can also be interpreted as meaning that love, if it is true, should be without fault. There are lots of references to the idea of love enduring in Sonnet 116. As well as being "unshaken" by storms, "Love alters not" - it is a constant, an "ever-fixed mark", just as a "star" is reliably found in the night sky. As well as not changing appearance or position, love "bears it out even to the edge of doom". Shakespeare is using language associated with extremes to show the power of love, confirming love as a positive force that triumphs over the prospect of "doom".

The Shakespearean sonnet has 14 lines divided into three stanzas of four lines each and a final couplet. The rhyme scheme...
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