Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Rachel's Analysis of Sonnet 116

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Sonnet 116, yet again, discusses love. The speaker wants to have everything he loves laid out on the table, without feeling the need to hide anything. There might not be any issues with love either, it is simply there and strong. It is hard to alter, change, or move, and is steadfast against the dangers that might occur. Love is stalwart, and therefore able to be a guide to others as well. Love outlasts the test of time, and is considered just "to be" in existence.

This sonnet is similar to number 18, discussing love and its stalwart nature, unshaken by the tempest or untrimmed by nature's course.

"Admit" could mean to either give in, or can be seen as a nod to those who oppose love, and possible want to unravel it and its purposes. It can also show a strength in love.

"Love's not Time's fool... within his bending sickle's compass come" refers to love lasting time, and to the end. It does not die. Along with that, the end couplet then attempts to support this claim, by saying that if love dies before death itself occurs, then it was not truly love that existed.

"Ever-fixed mark," "looks on tempests unshaken," "the star to every wandering bark" all allude to the strength of love.

The volta after line 8 gives love a sort of attitude, and feels more powerful and forceful as a result, because it is strong and shown as strong in the proceeding lines - the volta shows that strength.


  1. I'm curious about how the volta is determined in this sonnet and other like it. I always thought of it being in the couplet, noting how he starts it with if, but it seem most people see the volta as occurring earlier.

  2. I think I'd agree with Mary here. Line 9 begins, "Love's not time's fool." This is in agreement and doesn't change the perspective or direction of the poem. In fact, "love alters not" (line 11) mirrors "love is not love which alters" (lines 2-3). Although the final couplet is not necessarily a new idea, it seems to change directions a little to say, "If I'm wrong, then no one ever loved anyone anyway." That seems to be a different tone than the rest of the poem. I'd love to hear an opinion to the contrary though.