Comparison of Shakespeare's Sonnet 73 and Sonnet 116

Comparison of Shakespeare's Sonnet 73 and Sonnet 116

Length: 968 words (2.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Comparison of Shakespeare's Sonnet 73 and Sonnet 116

   William Shakespeare, in his Sonnet 73 and Sonnet 116, sets forth his

vision of the unchanging, persistent and immovable nature of true love.

According to Shakespeare, love is truly   "till death do us part," and possibly

beyond.  Physical infirmity, the ravages of age, or even  one's partner's

inconstancy have no effect upon the affections of one who sincerely loves.  His

notion of love is not a romantic one in which an idealized vision of a lover is

embraced.  Instead he recognizes the weaknesses to which we, as humans, are

subject, but still asserts that love conquers all.


      Shakespeare uses an array of figurative language to convey his message,

including metaphor and personification.  Thus, in sonnet 73, he compares himself

to a grove of trees in early winter, "When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do

hang Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,..."  These lines seem to

refer to an aged, balding man, bundled unsuccessfully against the weather.

Perhaps, in a larger sense, they refer to that time in our lives when our

faculties are diminished and we can no longer easily withstand the normal blows

of life.  He regards his body as a temple- a "Bare ruined choir[s]"- where sweet

birds used to sing, but it is a body now going to ruin.


      In Sonnet 116, love is seen as the North Star, the fixed point of

guidance to ships lost upon the endless sea of the world.  It is the point of

reference and repose in this stormy, troubled world, "an ever-fixed mark That

looks on tempests and is never shaken;..."


      He personifies the coming of the end of his life as night, which is

described as "Death's second self" in sonnet 73.  However, in Sonnet 116 death

appears in the guise of the grim reaper, Father Time, who mows down all of our

youth, but still cannot conquer love- "Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips

and cheeks within his bending sickle's compass come;..."


      While both poems make use of figurative language, sonnet 73 uses far

more imagery than sonnet 116.  Sonnet 73 uses the image of the close of man's

life as a wintry grove with the few remaining leaves shivering in the cold.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Comparison of Shakespeare's Sonnet 73 and Sonnet 116." 29 Mar 2020

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

A Comparison between To His Coy Mistress and Sonnet 116 Essays

- A Comparison between To His Coy Mistress and Sonnet 116 The poem "To His Coy Mistress" was written in the mid 17th century by Andrew Marvell, being written in this time Marvell's poem was unable to be published as its taboo content was unfavoured by the puritans in power at the time. Whereas "Sonnet 116" by William Shakespeare was written in the late 16th century, a time of liberation and freedom for the stage and literature. Both poems are similar in theme and yet different in approach, they both pursue the theme of love although Marvell in a satirical Carpe Diem love style whereas Shakespeare in a traditional sonnet style....   [tags: Andrew Marvell William Shakespeare Essays]

Research Papers
1542 words (4.4 pages)

William Shakespeare 's Sonnet 75 And Sonnet 116 Essay example

- William Shakespeare’s sonnets are renowned as some of the greatest poetry ever written. He wrote a total of 154 sonnets that were published in 1609. Shakespearean sonnets consider similar themes including love, beauty, and the passing of time. In particular, William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 75 and Sonnet 116 portray the theme of love through aspects of their form and their display of metaphors and similes. While both of these sonnets depict the theme of love, they have significantly contrasting ideas about the same theme....   [tags: Iambic pentameter, Poetry, Sonnet, Love]

Research Papers
1314 words (3.8 pages)

Uncovering Worth Unknown: The Constancy of Love in Sonnet 116 Essay

- Arguably the most famed writer of all time, William Shakespeare became famous for his plays and for his sonnets. These sonnets discuss everything from the importance of children to the troubles of rival poets, and have even been divided into two distinct subgroups—those of the “Fair Youth” and those of the “Dark Lady”—because of the differences between the two. However, a common theme that runs throughout nearly all of them is that of love. Illustrating and exemplifying love, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 provides a classic example of this theme, as Shakespeare both defines love and holds it up as a paragon of all things good....   [tags: Poetry Analysis ]

Research Papers
2354 words (6.7 pages)

Analysis of Two of the Best Williams Shakespeare's Work Essay

- Known as the leader in classical poetry and drama, English writer William Shakespeare, captures the passion and emotions that the romance and depths of the human heart experiences in life. This is especially shown in his vast collection of sonnets which exemplified the “carpe diem” ideology of the period, and the love that one can have for another. Two of the most famous of Shakespeare’s works, Sonnet 55 [Not Marble, nor the gilded monuments] and sonnet 116 [Let me not to the marriage of true minds], are no exception to this theme in poetry....   [tags: sonnet 55, sonnet 116, classical poerty]

Research Papers
1261 words (3.6 pages)

A Comparison of Romantic Love in Shakespeare's Sonnets & As You Like It

- Shakespeare's Sonnets & Romantic Love in As You Like It       Shakespeare's comedy As You Like It is clearly a pastoral comedy with a country setting, a theme revolving around love and a story which consists of a series of accidental meetings between characters and a resolution involving transformations of characters and divine intervention.  The comedy involves the traditional literary device of moving urban characters into the country where they have to deal with life in a different manner.  Whereas the pastoral comedy was usually a vehicle for satire on corrupted urban values, in this play the satire appears to be directed at the convention of Petrarchan love.(Rosenblum, 86)   Rena...   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Research Papers
2070 words (5.9 pages)

Shakespeare's Sonnets Essay example

- There has been some dispute whether or not the sonnets are actually written by William Shakespeare, the strongest argument for this is the phrase "BY.OVR.EVERLIVING.POET.", in which some, the most notable being the entertainment lawyer and author Bertram Fields, argue that this would mean the author would be dead by 1609, while William Shakespeare lived until 1616.[1] The 154 poems were most likely written over a period of several years and published in the 1609 collection. These were all in sonnet form and previously unpublished, with the exception of poem number 138 and 144 which had been part of The Passionate Pilgrim, released in 1599....   [tags: William Shakespeare]

Free Essays
1553 words (4.4 pages)

Essay on An Analysis of Shakespeare's Sonnet 116

- An Analysis of Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 Shakespeare's Sonnet 116, denying Time's harvest of love, contains 46 iambic, 15 spondaic, 6 pyrrhic, and 3 trochaic feet. Like the varying magnitudes of stars that distinguish the sky's constellations, infused with myths describing all degrees and types of love, the spondaic, trochaic, and pyrrhic substitutions create a pattern of meaning that can be inferred by the discerning eye and mind. Shakespeare emphasizes his denial of the effects of Time on love by accenting "not" in lines 1, 2, 9, and 11, and "no" in lines 5 and 14....   [tags: Shakespeare Sonnet Essays 116 Papers]

Research Papers
544 words (1.6 pages)

William Shakespeare 's Sonnet 116 Essay

- Gatenby 1 Trevor Gatenby Professor Grant Moss English 3620 27 September 2014 Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 has always been one of my favorite works because of the value he places on love. Although I have read this sonnet many times before, I was glad to see that it was a topic of discussion this semester because I wanted to gain a further understanding of this particular sonnet. This sonnet comes in stark contrast to the first 15 sonnets where Shakespeare insists that the young man should not be wasting away his beauty....   [tags: Love, Sonnet, Romeo and Juliet, Iambic pentameter]

Research Papers
1480 words (4.2 pages)

Structure And Theme Of William Shakespeare 's Sonnet 116 Essay

- Structure and theme can hardly exist without the other in sonnet writing. Poets utilize (or, in some cases, do not utilize) the form of sonnets to make statements and further the effectiveness of their writing. Rhyme scheme, meter, and all structural elements become the metaphorical blocks for which compelling topics stand on. Although what the writer attempts to get across carries great importance, as does the form these words take on. Form, therefore, must contribute to the themes in different, but still necessary, ways....   [tags: Poetry, Rhyme scheme, Sonnet, Love]

Research Papers
1194 words (3.4 pages)

The Evasive Sonnet CXVI (116) Essay

-    In my survey of Shakespeare's Sonnets, I have found it difficult to sincerely regard any single sonnet as inferior.  However, many of the themes could be regarded as rather trite.  For example sonnet XCVII main idea is that with my love away I feel incomplete, sonnet XXIX says that only your love remembered makes life bearable, while sonnet XXXVIII makes the beloved the sole inspiration in the poet's life.   These themes recycled in love songs and Hallmark cards, hardly original now, would hardly have been any newer in Elizabethan England.   However the hackneyed themes of these sonnets is in a sense the source of their essence.  These emotions, oftentimes difficult to adequately articul...   [tags: Sonnet 116 Essays]

Research Papers
2569 words (7.3 pages)

Related Searches


person's later years are the twilight of life, to which the night of death

inevitably follows.  Further, the end of life is compared to the embers of a

dying fire, "In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire That on the ashes of his

youth doth lie,...."  All of these images express the fading light of a life in

decline.  The short, dark days of winter, the last rays at sunset and the

glowing remnants beneath the ashes all evoke the beauty of a once vibrant life

which is coming to a close.


      In contrast, sonnet 116 presents two images.  The first is that of the

exploring seafarer, out on stormy, uncertain seas with the North star of love as

his only guide through them.  Even though the seafarer attempts to

scientifically measure the worth of this love to him, it is immeasurable- "It is

the star to every wandering bark, Whose worth's unknown, although his height be



      The second image in sonnet 116 is that of Time mowing down our rosy-

cheeked youth.  Even so, however, love is not ended by our brief time on this

earth, but lasts until Judgment Day- "Love alters not with his [Time's] brief

hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom."


      Finally, the tone of the two poems offers the greatest contrast between

them.  Sonnet 73 has a narrator who is somewhat detached and accepting of his

infirmities.  The entire main body of the sonnet, lines one through twelve, is a

physical description of the narrator's decline, which is related in a soft and

melancholy voice.  It is only the concluding couplet which brings home the

message that the strength of true love is shown when it exists in the face of

the narrator's inevitable decline.


      On the other hand, sonnet 116 has a passionate, didactic narrator.  He

orders and exhorts the reader.  He does not address the object of his affections,

as does the narrator of sonnet 73, but directly addresses his audience.- "Let no

man to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments." This narrator uses his

concluding couplet almost as an ironic aside.  You can almost see him speaking

to his audience from behind the back of his hand- "If this be error and upon me

proved, I never writ , nor no man ever loved."  There seems little likelihood

that Shakespeare thought that he had to worry about losing that bet.


      In conclusion, while the two sonnets differ greatly in tone, differ

somewhat in imagery, and have some similarity and some difference in their use

of figurative language, both express the universal desire for unconditional,

never ending love.  Sonnet 73 seems to say that even such a love ends at the

grave, though.- "To love that well which thou must leave ere long."  Sonnet 116

bears it out even to the end of the world.  Either poem offers a vision of love

to which we can aspire.



Works Cited and Consulted

Abrams et al. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, sixth edition, vol. 1. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1993.

Bender, Robert M., and Charles L. Squier, eds. The Sonnet: An Anthology. New York: Washington Square P, 1987.

Bloom, Harold. Modern Critical Interpretations: William Shakespeare's Sonnets. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987. pg. 12-13


Ingram, W. G. and Theodore Redpath, Ed. "Sonnet 73," Shakespeare's Sonnets.New York: Barnes & Noble, Inc., 1968. pg. 168-169.


Vendler, Helen. The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1997. pg. 333-336

Return to