What are some good solid comparisons between Shakespeare's Sonnets 116 and 130?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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There are two comparisons between Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 and 130. The first is that both speak of rosy cheeks. The second is that they echo in very styles the same theme: "marriage of true minds." Most points of versification in Sonnets 116 and 130 are contrasting. In 116, Shakespeare starts out speaking philosophically about the steadiness of love and its constancy in the face of "tempests" of altering circumstances. In 130, the beginning is a derisive commentary on his beloved's physical imperfections. Both meet near the middle with the mention of rosy cheeks.

Sonnet 116 ends with a comment on the effects of time on beauty and the assertion that if his philosophy is thought to be in error, then it is equally true that he never wrote a poem or play and that no man has ever loved. Sonnet 130 ends with further assaults on her breath, voice, and walk, with the conclusion that although he sees her faults, his love is as "rare" (precious, valuable) as poets who sing heavenly praises of their loves. Sonnet 130 thus proves the tenets of Sonnet 116.

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James Kelley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

I'll try my hand at giving two points of comparison and contrast between William Shakespeare's sonnets 116 and 130.

1. Beauty and love are more that "rosy lips and cheeks": Both poems seems to be concerned primarily with arguing that true beauty and true love are not superficial and changing.

2. Truth and untruth: The closing couplet in both sonnets sets up an opposition between truth and untruth. Sonnet 116 ends with the following statement:

If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Sonnet 130 ends with a similar statement:

And yet by heaven, I think my love as rare,
As any she belied with false compare.

Because both sonnets seem to be concerned primarily with establishing the truth about their subject (what is beauty and what is love), we can understand why both poems would end by emphasizing the different between what is true and what isn't.

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