Monday, September 12, 2016

Kevin's Informal Research for Sonnet Analysis: Sonnet 116

Share it Please
Traditional Scholarly Source -  When reading this article by Ashleigh Imus, I learned that Pride and Prejudice, Gone with the Wind, and Titanic were all directly influenced by this sonnet. That means that, without this sonnet, there would be no first movie with a swear word, James Cameron would be short $600,000,000, and the world would have who knows how many less Jane Austen-inspired chick-flicks. That really changed the way I read this poem. Admiration slowly turned to animosity. 
Informal Online Source - I looked at SparkNotes. What stood out to me is that it explains how tame and ordinary the poem is in terms of imagery and use of metaphors. I guess that speaking of rosy cheeks and love as a guiding star was pretty standard. This got me thinking, if it's so plain, why is is so famous? As I read on, I found my answer. What is remarkable about the poem is that it masterfully captures the powerful passions of love in strictly structured, rhetorically sound lines.  
Media Source  - While searching for images, I came across the picture below. I tired to think really hard what this had to do with Sonnet 116. Neither of them look particularly happy; in fact, the girl looks like she is trying to sit as far away from him as possible. There is a seemingly insignificant plant between them. They look plain. And then it hit me: Shakespeare's poem is plain. The plainness represents the structure. Love can be symbolized by many things: the light coming in, the growing plant, the fixed chairs. However, I think love is portrayed by the paper crane in the tree. "Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken"--that is the line that, for me, is the crane.
Social Source - My friend Kirsti sent me this text when I asked her for her thoughts: "From what I get, it's basically saying that love is something way more deep and profound than something that just changes on a whim. It's constant and timeless and endures. And in the end, he says, if that's not love, then he doesn't know what it would be. It's actually very beautiful. Goodness, Shakespeare has a way with words!" From her commentary, I thought about how Shakespeare really didn't know how to describe love any better: it is timeless/eternal.


  1. I love your research in how this sonnet has influenced pop culture ever since it was first published. I wonder how you would be able to incorporate that into a paper? Your insights into what makes this sonnet special is key to being able to look at it in different ways.

    1. I'll have to look at the prompt again, but that is a great suggestion.

  2. I really like the picture you chose! I hadn't really thought about the poem being plain before, but I really liked what you had to say about the form and structure being very straightforward, and how you tied that in with the subject. It's definitely interesting to think about what Shakespeare was doing when he chose certain forms.