Sonnet 116 Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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Please analysis the poem "Sonnet 116" by William Shakespeare.

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mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Sonnet CXVI (116) by Shakespeare is a succinct and beautiful expression of the speaker's concept of true love. In the context of the previous sonnets, the speaker puts aside his uncertainties and apologies, instead concentrating on love as an ideal.

True love is qualified by its constancy. Man or nature never alter it; instead, it is an "ever-fixed mark" that no disaster can affect. Even Time cannot alter such love. The beloved may age or suffer misfortune, but the feeling of love for this person does not change. Comparing true love to the North Star that is an "ever-fixed mark" (line 5), the speaker declares that love is not "Time's fool" (line 9) despite the beloved's aging and loss of beauty. So convinced is the speaker of the permanence of true love that in the closing couplet he declares that "If this be error" to believe as he does about true love, "no man ever loved" (line 14).

Shakespeare employs metaphors, writing that love is an "ever-fixed mark"(line 5) and "Love's not Time's Fool." (line 9)  Previously, Love has been equated metaphorically to a navigating device that operates as does the North Star--"the star to every wandering bark." (line 7) Imagery is used with the suggestion of the Grim Reaper and his "bending sickle" (lines 9-10). 

In this particular sonnet, simple language and structure are employed. Many of the words are monosyllabic; there is nothing remarkable about the rhyme, either. It is, perhaps, the most conversational of Shakespeare's sonnets. Furthermore, because it imitates ordinary speech, the impact of this sonnet's meaning is easily felt and understood.

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