Critical Analysis of William Shakespeares Sonnet 116

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The intent of this essay is to critically analyze William Shakespeare’s Sonnet # 116. Throughout this essay I will be mentioning frequently to the text of the verse form William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 116” feats conventional sonneteering ( Kerrigan. 1986. 1995:11 ) to talk of his perceptual experience and opinion of love. The sonnets construction. three quatrains and a pair echo the poets’ content farther stressing his impression that true love is changeless. The tone of the verse form expresses great sums of concluding strong belief. asseverating the poet’s beliefs that he so knows what love is and what it is non. His clever usage of metaphors and poetic characteristics convey his realistic declaration that true love conditions all storms.

The first quatrain introduces the topic of the verse form ‘True Love’. The talker informs the audience. true love is non how others see it or are it the constitution’s position. Love does non depend on a clip. or topographic point. on beliefs. or the sex of the lovers. Love does non alter or discontinue merely because we notice our dear has changed nor can it be taken away by decease or severed by separation. The linguistic communication used in the first two lines of the verse form: Let me non to the matrimony of true minds/ Admit impediments… focuses our ears on the first metaphor of this sonnet ‘marriage’ pulling our attending to Christian matrimony services by repeating The Celebration of Marriage from “The Book of Common Prayer” “that if either of you knows any hindrance. why ye may non be legitimately joined together in Matrimony. ye do now squeal it”. The ceremonial is specifically designed to get married two people for all the right grounds. In most civilizations, it is forbidden to get married a close comparatively or person of the same sex.

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However. Shakespeare refers to this brotherhood of marriage to ‘the matrimony of true minds’ suggesting a religious brotherhood between two psyches whose bond forms a common grasp and tolerance for one and another. Soul mates whose love exists deeper than the physical brotherhood of two organic structures and are non affected by the obstructions. which states impose to forestall the brotherhood of matrimony. Platonic love. which exists between two friends or relations who are important and cherished in the lives of one and other. Love is the kernel of this verse form. The symmetricalness of sentence structure and sound forms within the concluding three lines of the quatrain:

  • Love is nonlove
  • which alters when it alteration finds
  • or bends with the remover to take creates a pleasant reverberation of the ‘o’ sound heightening the feelings of love.

The usage of initial rhyme in the gap line emphasizes that the character would non stand in the manner of true love. So what is true love? Shakespeare’s usage of negative words may good at the terminal of this quatrain topographic point one on the defensive nevertheless his clever usage of sentence structure and imagination leave us non on the defensive but alternatively leave one to chew over the inquiry.

The 2nd quatrain has the talker virtually censuring the audience. hitting them with his strongest and memorable imagination: I’ll state you what true love is. True Love is immovable its steadfast it’s strong. No legal power can put opinion to declare one is genuinely in love. Love demands to be experienced; it needs to last any storm. Love is an ever-fixed mark/ That looks on storms and ne’er shaken’ Imagine any outstanding land grade like the pyramids of Egypt or the steeples of coastal churches which were used as beacons to steer a ship at sea. which are non affected by the pitilessness or badness of electrical storms and hurricanes but remain fixed to steer the beaten vas. True Love will non be shaken by the ‘storms’ which couples. households or friends encounter daily.

Fiscal force per unit area works force per unit area statements that arise through differences in sentiments or struggles of involvement. force per unit areas which at times appear so huge that it feels like nil. will see them through. True Love will non yield to these hindrances. True Love has unshakeable foundations which brotherhoods and matrimonies can be built on. It will steer loved 1s like the North Star guides lost boats at sea. It will assist loved 1s assess their battles and detect how they can overcome these barriers to go on with their journey together. The poet claims we may be able to mensurate love to some grade but loves true worth is unknown we don’t to the full understand it. What makes us forgive? What makes us be wise to our differences? What makes us adore and care for?

What makes us desire to pass the remainder of our lives with one another? True Love is the lone reply. You can non contend true love no affair how hard you try. Jane Austin showed through her characters Elizabeth and Darcy in the Pride and Prejudice that true love is a force that can be conquered even under the hardest fortunes. Shakespeare’s adept usage of metaphors and maritime mentions throughout this quatrain attributes love to be like a sea. One can acquire lost in it. tossed around in it and in the most terrible instances, one may even be killed. On the contrary, love can be peaceable. gratifying and a sanctuary from the remainder of the universe.

The 3rd quatrain intensifies the poet’s statement declaring love is the lone thing that can stand up to clip. Shakespeare has personified love and clip in this quatrain. By bodying clip he has created an autocrat who possesses a major menace to love. The rough enunciation chosen in lines nine and ten exaggerates the power clip has on beauty and young person. making the image of a beefy gramps clock hacking at a booming crop so it will no longer enjoy in the heat of the Sun. The talker is declaring that love will stand up to clip it will non be made a gag of. Love will non flinch as clip ages the loved 1s visual aspect or alter when personal growth changes the beloved’s character. Love will digest any trial clip puts to it. Love can non be measured by hours or hebdomads even when life’s opinion twenty-four hours has come ( “the border of doom” ). This brings me back to the matrimony vowels taken from “The Book of Common Prayer: ‘Wilt 1000 love her. comfort her. honor. and maintain her in illness and in wellness; and. abandoning all other maintain thee merely unto her. so long as ye both shall populate? These vowels have one pledge that they will love each other until they are parted by decease but Shakespeare is proclaiming that True Love will non be told when it will halt. it is changeless it has no bounds.

In the pair and as a concluding effort to convert the audience that he so knows precisely what true love is Shakespeare has the talker present himself to the audience as a poet. Declaring that since I have written of True Love. so what I assert must be true love. He testifies on his trade like a suspect in a tribunal of jurisprudence ( ‘if this be a mistake and upon me proved” ). For if the audience (the jury) rejects his claim that love is changeless and accepts that hindrances do in fact change the manner one loves than he has misjudged love and resignations anything that he has of all time written. For if a poet a sonneteer who is an expert in their trade can be proven to be incorrect then no adult male has genuinely of all time loved. Often we claim that if an expert in a certain field is unable to carry through an undertaking given to them than there is no opportunity of anybody else being able to carry through it either.

Shakespeare is an adept sonnet author. He is able to make his sonnets to sound biographical. If this sonnet is a history of his true feelings about love and the elements that are needed to determine a loving relationship than they do non follow with the conventional thoughts of the love of his clip. Marriages in Shakespeare’s clip were frequently arranged by parents to confirm distinction or trade. An adult male might seek a married woman to give him position or possibly to legalize a matter that may bring forth an inheritor. Often it was a women’s dowery non her love that was the award most sought by users. Since Shakespeare was married he could associate with the conventional thoughts of matrimony but since he was removed from his married woman he may besides hold experienced another signifier of devotedness which asserts his concluding strong belief that true love conditions all storms.


  1. ‘The Book Of Common Prayer’. The Celebration of Marriage. Retrieved 10 Apr 2003 from https://www. Eskimo. com/~lhowell/bcp1662/occasion/marriage
  2. Kerrigan. J. 1995 ( 1986 ). The Sonnets and A Lover’s Complaint by William Shakespeare
  3. Penguin Books. VCCS Litonline
  4. Introduction to Literature English 112 ( English Composition II ), page 9 of 20.  from # 1
  5. ‘Shakespeare’s Sonnets’. Commentary Sonnet 116 Retrieved 1 Feb. 2003 from https://www.
  6. The Place 2 Be. Critique of Sonnet 116. Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Retrieved 18 Apr 2003 from
  7. Austen. J. 1998 ( 1970 ). Pride and Prejudice. Oxford World’s Classic paper-back book. OxfordUniversity Press.

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