Sonnet 116 analysis
Shakespeare’s sonnet 116 is a great expression of the universal human ideas of love. First published in 1609 sonnet 116 describes the unchangeable love created through the joining of two people. Sonnet 116 is unlike Shakespeare’s other sonnets but rather is like only two other sonnets of his, 94 & 129, which are detached from his other styles. Shakespeare expresses this through his understanding and knowledge of true love.
Love is Constant & strong
It is understood that in sonnet 116, Shakespeare defines love as being constant and strong. It gives the impression of the indestructible qualities of true love. Line three says ‘love is not love, which alters when it alteration finds’. The translated version is love is not love which changes when it finds a change in circumstances. This means that true love doesn’t change no matter what circumstance whether physical, mental or spiritual come about. The ones that truly love each other, don’t change their thoughts about one another. This expression is gentle through its metaphorical language yet has a hidden message of fear as it’s so strongly expresses that love should not change yet we know that circumstances can change people’s feelings. The intensity of love is emotionally described, expressing to the reader that love doesn’t back down from the difficulties, thrown at us throughout life. We may be able to measure love to some degree, but it doesn’t mean we fully understand it. Loves actual worth will always remain a mystery/unknown. It is said that love is a feeling that cannot be described with words, it can’t be seen as it’s an emotion. In line 8, it says ‘Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.’ Truly powerful, unconditional, true love is expressed throughout the sonnet.
Comparisons between love ; nature
In sonnet 116, it is noted that Shakespeare has wrote ‘the star to every wandering bark. In this line, Shakespeare is comparing loves strength to a star. The comparison of the star has been chosen, as the star is natural beauty found in the world. It is above all other emotions and signifies the poet’s admiration towards true love. He has used the metaphor to portray imagery, for the reader to understand true love. No humans know the exact height of the star in the sky, yet this doesn’t decrease the importance and usefulness of the star. Similarly, humans can’t put a label on love, yet there is no one in the world who is unaware of love and its beauty and power. is also compared to a light in the metaphor ‘It is an ever fix’d mark’. This compares love to the critical role of a beacon to a ship throughout the time when sonnet 116 was written, beacons were limited and it was through local knowledge that their location was known. This metaphor highlights the crucial element of knowing someone so well and being connected through true love. Like a ship who is saved through the unchanging location of a beacon in a storm, humans can be saved by the unchanging nature of true love during difficult circumstances. The connotation of ‘star’ is used, being a guiding light and reliable like love is between humans. The star highlights the enormity and greatness of love.
What love isn’t
The third quatrain goes on to express ‘what love isn’t.’ Shakespeare says that ‘Love’s not Time’ fool, though rosy lips and cheeks.’ It is said that time is very powerful, however Shakespeare is saying that love is more important. Love is shown to defeat the worldly limitations of time. While humans are subject to change in their life because of time, the poem suggests that love is not subject to this. While bodies grow old, people appear weathered and even our brains don’t work as quickly, love is not bound by the limitations of time but rather, remains constant and reliable throughout time when two people are joined through it. In fact, Shakespeare suggests that love is eternal.


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