Share it Please
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Sonnet 116 seems failry simple: love trumps all, love endures all obsticles, love is everlasting. And this is the common reading of this sonnet - a reading which permeates throughout Shakespearen criticism. However, I was interested in looking at alternative readings to this sonnet. For example, many critics argue that the sonnet takes on a subversive tone - a tone, I believe, is reaffirmed by Shakespeare's diction and meter. Critics argue that Shakespeare is addressing infidelity and offers some cynicism to an imperfect world searching for perfect love - because love is hard and imperfect.
Meter: The sonnet begins with two trochiac feet (affronting reader's expectations). Shakespeare is talking of ideal love (love that can be shared by "true minds" and seems to be critisizing the infidelity of his lover or of someone he knows)
Diction: "Admit" suggests that he has impediments about a relationship (a real relationship). "O no!" likewise offers a sense of mockery and a sardonic narrator. "Bears" and "doom" suggests that while the narrator is painting the picture of idealistic love he's not too optimistic about love at the present.
This sonnet appears subversive in the way it mocks idealistic visions of love - because they're unrealistic. Because not all lovers are "true." This sonnet compares to Sonnet 130 in the way it challenges idealistic visions of love - and how it altnerates between trochiac meter and iambic meter as a way of subverting reader's expectations as opposed to soley challenging societal expectations of love. The form of the sonnet matches, at times, the nature of the message. While in sonnet 130 the narrator is more jesting rather than cynical/subvertive - they both end in a resolute assertion in the final couplet - bringing the topic of love back to a realistic platform.