Shakespeare's Sonnets Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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Discuss the theme of the destructive influence of time in "Sonnet 104."

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Shakespeare reveals a way to combat time's destructive force on life in "Sonnet 104."

The speaker is addressing a loved one, commenting that no matter how much time goes by, age does not show on the loved one. The speaker alludes to three years having elapsed: "Three beauteous springs to yellow Autumn turned." During that period, he states, in his eyes there has been no effect of aging on the loved one's face. He feels the same as the first time they met, when he first was enthralled with their "sweet hue."

Yet he recognizes that time does have an effect on all life, as it steals moments from everyone and everything. The seasons continue to pass by, with noticeable changes to nature. Despite that recognition that time continues passing, the speaker's feelings have never waned. He cannot see the passage of time on the loved one because his feelings remove any impediment to love.

Although the speaker is well aware of time's force, he does not see it as an enemy, as others might. Instead, he feels that his lover's beauty is timeless. In essence, love is holding back time's destruction. "Ah, yet doth beauty . . . / Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived." To the speaker, time's passage is irrelevant—his eyes will always be mesmerized by the memory of their first meeting and the beauty that he continues to see in his loved one.

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