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Sonnet 116 is often looked at as one that is a great example of the "Shakespearean Sonnet" because of it's common structure and theme. It follows the conventional structure in the last couplet when we see the ending possessing not only a conclusion, but also, a revelation. Now, one would often see the Sonnet 116 and compare it to that of 18 and 31, because both of them also deal with this idea of eternal love. However, Sonnet 116 is special because of how Shakespeare goes about describing this eternal love. So, what are the differences? What makes this sonnet one of the great ones? Through his various uses of word choice, we see the greatness of the story that is framed in the sonnet.
One of the most interesting parts of Sonnet 116 is the usage of the repeated pairs throughout the poem. Lines such as, "Love is not love",, "alters when its alteration finds", and "remover to remove" all demonstrate this use of repetition in pairs. Now, the importance of this is that in using these various pairs, they become representations of the pair of lovers themselves, which helps to only further weave this idea of a loving pair throughout the story.
In the opening lines of the poem, Shakespeare refers to love as "a marriage of true minds." and then goes on to say, "admit impediments." Now, the understanding of impediments is crucial in realizing the importance of this line for the story. Now, if someone had just happened to grab the dictionary and look this up, they'd get a definition of something like, "a hindrance or obstruction in doing something." Which is true. However, it is important to note that during Shakespeare's time this was not used as an economic term, or any other thing really. It had one role and it was used to describe objects at a wedding ceremony (Nelson). So, in knowing this, we see that this strong love is one that is agreeable on all ends. There is no objections to it because it is obviously eternal and strong.
Now, personification in and of itself is not a new idea for Shakespeare to use in his poems. In fact, sonnets are full of personifications. However, Shakespeare chooses something quite interesting to personify in this sonnet, and because of that, the sonnet becomes more interesting for the reader. In lines 9 and 10 he explores the relationship between love and time. He states that even if' rosy lips and cheeks' and confronted by time's 'sickle' that the love will endure. So, he personifies love and time here. And, instead of using them as enemies, which they were traditionally seen to be, he says that they can coexist. They will work together. Love endures.
Shakespeare is brilliant because he can take an idea like love being eternal and spin it many different ways because of his skill as a writer. We see love in Sonnet 31, although this is a love that is more reflective. We see love in Sonnet 18, which also focuses on the idea of an eternal love. However, each of these sonnets is different because of how gracefully Shakespeare prepared each and every one.
Nelson, T.G.A" "Impediments" in Shakespeare's Sonnet 116." Parergon 2.1 (1984): 185-89. Web.