Professor Grant Moss
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. Lines such as “Profitless usurer, why dost thou use”, and “For having traffic with thyself alone” (lines 7 and 8) from sonnet 4 suggest a lot about the young man. In an era where getting married and having children at an early age was expected, the young man seems to be doing neither. Rather, as these lines suggest, he is being selfish with his own beauty. Because of this, in the first 15 sonnets Shakespeare is pleading with the young man to preserve his beauty by having children. In consequence, Shakespeare spends the majority of his sonnets explaining to the young man how to fix this problem. In sonnet 116, Shakespeare not only explains what it is to love, but he proposes to the young man the idea that true love is unwavering, fixed and lasts forever.
Throughout the sonnet, Shakespeare constantly argues that despite any obstacles that may arise, true love is unwavering. He goes on to define love by what it doesn’t do, change. Claiming that love stays constant, even though people and circumstances may have inconsistencies; love never dies, even when someone tries to destroy it. Rather than being something that comes and goes, love is eternal and unchanging; so much so that...
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...pecific portrayal of love is somehow proved to be the wrong one, then nobody, as far as the poet is concerned, has ever loved at all. Although a very lofty claim, this seems to be one that can be backed by the acceptance of the definition given previously. Love is brought to light in this sonnet more clearly than any other sonnet I have ever read, this may be the reason I liked it so much. Shakespeare takes love, a topic that is so complicated, and makes it real, tangible and understood.
I enjoyed this Sonnet for many reasons, the least of which was because it was about love. Shakespeare seems to understand so much about love and yet he is able to put it into fourteen lines made up of three distinct points: Love is unwavering, fixed, and it lasts forever.
Crowther, John, ed. “No Fear Sonnets.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2004. Web. 2 Sept. 2014.
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