Shakespeare's Sonnets Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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Compare Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 and Sonnet 130.

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Shakespeare's sonnets are divided by scholars into two sections: the first 126 are written to an unknown young man, classically beautiful and in the full bloom of youth, while the remaining sonnets are addressed to a so-called "dark mistress" whose features are not in line with the beauty norms extolled by other poets of the day. However, although the subjects of sonnets 116 and 130 are very different, the themes of the two poems are relatively similar.

In sonnet 116, Shakespeare describes love as "an ever-fixed mark"; "tempests" cannot shake it, let alone minor imperfections in one's love, or the judgment of society. The sonnet declares that "the marriage of two minds" cannot be destroyed by any "impediment," be that encroaching age or any other "alteration" to the beloved. We know from the other "young man" sonnets that the subject of the poem here is currently beautiful, with "rosy lips and cheeks," but the sonnet states that even when these "within [Time's] bending sickle's compass...

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