Throughout a student?s academic life, when it comes to studying English Literature, the name William Shakespeare should sound familiar. Just about anyone who has had any experience with literature can name at least one of Shakespeare’s great works. William Shakespeare, who wrote many literary masterpieces, is considered one of the greatest writers who ever lived. Most know Shakespeare for his many plays, but also included in his library is a collection of over 100 sonnets. Almost all of Shakespeare?s sonnets focus on the central idea of love and its many components. . Sonnet 116 follows this trend in the form of iambic pentameter with a rhyme scheme of a,b,a,b,c,d,c,d,e,f,e,f,g,g In this sonnet Shakespeare continues his mastery of the English language as well as the use of vivid images and metaphors to bring alive the ?true idea? of this elegant poem.
The poem opens with, ?Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments?. Shakespeare shows his brilliance here by informing the reader that even though marriage should be a sign of love and faithfulness, this is not what it takes to bind ?true minds?. When a person enters into an agreement of marriage there are certain things that a person is now forbidden to do. According to Shakespeare, these laws should not bind a person when it comes to the ?true? connection of two people who are in love. Even though law may marry one person, this should not interfere with the connection that person may have with someone else. ?Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove.? Shakespeare begins to tell the reader what ?true love? consists of in the next couple lines. ?True love is something that does not change over time. ?True love? cannot be broken but rather lives on eternally through the minds of whom it engulfs. In comparison to the world in which we live today, this has a touch of irony in it since statistics show that 70% of marriages end in divorce. Mostly because of acts of unfaithfulness or physical and physiological changes within a member of the marriage. This is exactly what Shakespeare is referring to when he explains what ?true love? really is. Shakespeare feels that reasons such as these are not grounds for divorce if in fact the two people have ?true love? between them.
?Oh no! It is an ever fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken?. The next two lines of the poem, five and six, are showing that love acts as a guide is to a ship. Shakespeare is comparing love to a guide in the water such as a lighthouse that can keep a sailor on the right path through their journey at sea. The ?tempests? that he speaks of could be storms that possibly parallel to controversies or other difficulties that take place in a relationship. Shakespeare believes that ?true love? can stand up to any of these ?tempests?. A matter of fact, ?true love? is so strong that it ?is never shaken?. This image is useful to the reader in seeing just what value the writer puts on love and its power. Shakespeare is further conveying his main theme throughout out the poem that, ?true love? is not broken by the natural ups and downs that coincide with a relationship between the people it involves. Rather, ?true love? can ?hold its own? against its opponents and stand tall when these tough times take place.
?It is the star to every wandering bark, whose worth?s unknown, although his height be taken.? These couple of lines paint a bright picture in the mind of the reader of just how special love is. Through the use of a metaphor, he is illustrating to the reader that the ?star?, is the guide to every ?wandering bark?. Love is the North Star?s light, or the guide to every ship. A boat at sea uses the stars in the sky to guide it on its path, just as love is a guide on the path of two people who posses it. The use of the star and wandering bark help the reader to obtain a vivid picture of what the author is trying to communicate. In addition, Shakespeare places a value judgment on love when he says that love?s ?worth is unknown?. This is extremely important in assessing just how meaningful love is in the eyes of Shakespeare. He is telling the reader that there can be no quantitative value placed on ?true love? because ?true love? is so rare and its components so valuable there is nothing in this world that could ever top the usefulness of it. All the money and power is the world is worthless in comparison to ?true love? in the views of William Shakespeare. This section of the poem really illustrates to the reader why Shakespeare puts so mush emphasis on love as well as its place in his coupled life.
?Love?s not Time?s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks within his bending sickle?s compass come?. ?Love?s not Time?s fool?, is a very clever and beautiful way of showing the reader that love, unlike the appearances of whom it consumes, does not alter over time. This well-spoken metaphor brings further to the poem the ideas of an eternal love. Everyone ages and the glamour that goes along with youth will disappear but ?true love? remains within and will not change regardless of what physical signs may be present. Once again, we see Shakespeare?s use vivid imagery when he speaks of ?rosy lips and cheeks?. This presents an image of youth and beauty that helps to illuminate the point the writer is sharing in these lines. The next two lines mimic the latter in painting a similar picture of ?true love?. ?Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom?. Again, Shakespeare is reiterating to the reader that love does not change because of the mere passage of time. Love stays constant and lasts throughout eternity or till ?the edge of doom? as Shakespeare says in his sonnet 116. ?The edge of doom? is Shakespeare?s way of saying love lasts until and past ?judgment day?. Here Shakespeare is adding to his already strong point that ?true love? can outlast anything. In Shakespearian time, ?judgment day? or the ?edge of doom? was a important theme and the idea of love outlasting this much avoided occasion was a strong sign of just how powerful ?true love? really is.
Shakespeare ends this sonnet with a rhyming couplet that could very well be the most significant lines of Sonnet 116. ?If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ nor no man ever loved.? Shakespeare makes a very bold and confident statement here about ?true love? and insures the reader just how strongly he backs his opinions and what it means. He is stating to everyone that if he is wrong about love, and what it holds, then he never wrote anything and nobody has ever been in love. This shows the reader just how much thought and reverence Shakespeare has about what he has written. The conclusion of this poem exhibits William Shakespeare?s knowledge of love, as well as the passion he has for the subject in general.
Shakespeare speaks of a so-called ?true love? in Sonnet 116. He goes very in-depth throughout his poem of just what ?true love? is along with what designates ?true love? from other types of love. ?True love? is depicted as the greatest asset that people can have for themselves. Shakespeare emphatically tells the reader of just how valuable ?true love? is and how confident he is in the feelings he conveys. The magical way in which Shakespeare writes and in turn tells his readers? of his ideas, further adds to the elegance and importance of Sonnet 116. Not too many people can use words and literary devices so well that they bring so much enlightenment to a subject.