Close Reading of Sonnet 116 Written by William Shakespeare 2011 “Sonnet 116” written by William Shakespeare is focusing on the strength and true power of love. Love is a feeling that sustainable to alterations, that take place at certain points in life, and love is even stronger than a breakup because separation cannot eliminate feelings. The writer makes use of metaphors expressing love as a feeling of mind not just heart as young readers may see it. To Shakespeare love is an immortal felling that is similar to a mark on a person’s life. This sonnet has a simple and straightforward meaning.
It is short, yet powerful with the perfect use of metaphors. If a partner suddenly becomes aware of impediments of the relationship they should not alter their feelings toward other person. The metaphoric meaning of love here is expressed as a star that guides a ship through storms and like a compass, and it does not let them divert from their destination. With his power of words Shakespeare puts love above time and even life implying that love remains even when youth ends or even after either partner dies, “even to the edge of doom”. (Shakespeare, 1609, p. 724).
The author is addressing this poem not to those who happily engaged in love, but to those who see obstacles in their relationships. “Let me not to the marriage of true minds” (1). It is clear that this message is addressed to the young audience, who yet may not know the true meaning of love and whose love is mostly guided by feelings. Shakespeare’s tone in this essence is mentoring and authoritative. He uses this method of self-expression to reach the minds of the audience. With the next two lines Shakespeare delivers the core meaning of this sonnet: “Admit the impediments.
Love is not love” (2). The use of word “impediment” is addressed not to either relationship mate but to the relationship itself as the author disuses it. The author is putting the reader against the fact that “marriages of minds” may suffer impediments. “Which alters when it alteration finds,” (3). Right here he uses the bridge between circumstances that occur between love partners and their feelings for each other. The writer wants to emphasize that feelings cannot turn unstable as changes happen to relationships.
He amplifies it on the next line: “Or bends with the remover to remove:” (4), using this metaphor to underline that true feelings does not fade away even after a breakup. The author starts off by saying what love is not, before he says what love is. Shakespeare is using this approach to state that love is an unbreakable feeling and it can survive through changes. In the first three lines of his sonnet Shakespeare maintains the repletion of such words as “love” and “love”, “alters” and “alteration”, “remover” and “remove”. This way he underlies the consistency of feelings that prevail over other conditions in his poem.
With each line Shakespeare’s thought is like bouncing between unusual changes to embrace the whole meaning of love that stays strong no matter what it has to sustain. In the next few lines Shakespeare is using metaphorical associations of love to give the reader the impression of majesty of love. “O no! It is an ever-fixed mark” (5), in this essence the meaning of mark pertains to sea-mark, which is a lighthouse, “That looks on tempests and is never shaken;” (6). The author is giving love metaphorical meaning of strength which is like a lighthouse never shaken with tempests.
The next metaphorical close: “It is the star to every wandering bark,” (7), in which love is presented as North Star which gives the sense of direction to each ship lost in sea. The reader can see there is a strong transition of context from what love is not, at the beginning of the poem to its strong essence in definition of what it is. The author is making perfect use of this transition by capturing the reader’s attention with a set of metaphors that visually describe strongest natural forces, such as a tempest crashing against single standing, yet withstanding cataclysms, lighthouse.
The author is using the next five lines of his sonnet to describe the value of love and outline the motives that guide this feeling through people’s lives, “Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken. ” (8); in this line Shakespeare is saying that the value of the feeling cannot be measured, although its sheer extent is known to every human. “Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks” (9), is interpreted as love cannot be manipulated by such aspects as time or physical beauty. It does not change with time and if it is an honest feeling it does not go away.
The next few lines underline the value of love through metaphors and the epic conclusion: “Within his bending sickle’s compass come: Comes within the compass of his sickle. ” (10), and “Love does not alter with hours and weeks/But bears it out even to the edge of doom. ” (11-12). Shakespeare is pointing at immortality of love that it cannot sustain alterations within hours and weeks, but it is carried through life until its end. Shakespeare strengths his point of view with the conclusion as if the meaning of love expressed by him is not true than he must have never been in love. If this be error and upon me proved, / I never writ, nor no man ever loved. ” (12-13). In the example of this sonnet Shakespeare’s language of poetry is conveying deep feelings to the reader with the power of his words. Shakespeare uses such aspects of poem as rhyme, meter, and reference to deliver his message powerfully to the reader. This sonnet was written in iambic pentameter, which is the kind of meter that predominates in most of Shakespeare’s sonnets. The author uses Iambic pentameter to stress the meaning of his thoughts in phrases that he includes in his poems.
Being only thirteen lines long “Sonnet 116” teaches the reader a remarkable lesson. The young reader, for whom this poem is mostly written, will discover the true power of love whereas the mature reader may find this poem very inspiring. It is rare that a love poem is written not in form of seduction but rather with simple definition of it and the truth about it which is present in the heart of each reader, young or older. Even though this sonnet was written in 17th century it makes allot of sense in modern days.
The meaning of love between people today is as relevant as it was more than three hundred years ago. No person imagines his or her life without love. The meaning of this poem creates as strong impression on the reader’s mind as it did at the time it was first published. It is as if someone is speaking core values of feelings present in each person of any age, generation, social class, or era people live in. The true essence of love is equally understood by both genders. Being written in a non-gender-oriented manner this poem delivers equal meaning to both men and women.
Being familiar with William Shakespeare’s works I never ran across this poem and I admit, as I read it I found it very majestic. When I was young I did not know what love was about. To me as well as to whom I loved it seemed rather passionate and unstable impression driven felling powered by the energy of youth. This poem, however, showed me what I did not know at that time and what I learned on my own growing up as a person. The sonnet written by Shakespeare is famous not for its metaphoric impressions or imagery.
In fact, there is only a little imagery present in this Sonnet. To create the imagination in the reader’s mind the author made the context of this poem easy to understand by simply relying on his own life experience. Shakespeare’s point is to make the reader look into his own sole to what is already there and awake it with the given impressions. References: Shakespeare, William. “Sonnet 116”. Barnet, S. , Cain, W. , & Burto, W. (2011). Literature for Composition (9th ed. ). New York, NV: Longman.