What literary devices are used in Sonnet 116?

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Some literary devices used in Sonnet 116 are repetition and consonance. The poem also utilizes all of the various devices that collectively define the sonnet's formal structure. And while Shakespeare appears to employ imperfect rhymes, this claim does not account for linguistic drift.

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In Sonnet 116 Shakespeare uses literary devices like personification, alliteration, and metaphor to convey the idea that even as beauty fades with time, true love remains strong. Personification is a form of figurative language in which a writer attributes human qualities to things that are not human. For example, in this sonnet, Shakespeare attributes human qualities to the concept of time, which is not human. Consider how he writes that

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come.

Shakespeare’s use of personification here suggests that time itself is destroying the beautiful physical features of the young. But he also says that love is “not Time’s fool,” which suggests that true love is not bothered by the deterioration of the physical and rather endures through time.

The use of the phrase “rosy lips and cheeks” to represent physical beauty is also read by some as an allusion to Cupid, the ancient Roman god of love. Cupid is typically associated with physical desire and attraction, which Shakespeare is saying is the kind of love that fades away. The love the speaker is describing is different than that kind of love; it is not just lust and attraction but rather the “marriage of true minds.” Here Shakespeare uses the metaphor of minds getting married, like people, to emphasize how connected the speaker feels to his love.

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The main literary devices used in Sonnet 116 are metaphors and personification. In line 7 of the poem, the speaker says that love "is the star to every wand'ring bark." In this line, the speaker uses a metaphor to describe love as a star, and he uses a second metaphor to describe a person's life as a ship, or "bark." The implication here is that love acts as a source of light to guide people through dark, difficult times, just as the North Star was at this time used by sailors to help them navigate their ships through the night. The North Star remains at a fixed point in the sky, and love, the speaker implies, is just as constant and as dependable.

In the second half of the poem, the speaker uses personification when he writes that love is "not Time's fool." Time is also said to have a "bending sickle," just like the familiar personified form of death known as the grim reaper. This personification perhaps makes "Time" seem willfully malicious and villainous, and thus true love in turn seems all the more heroic.

To convey his certainty as to what true love is, the speaker also uses literary devices like exclamatory sentences and rhyming couplets. He uses, for example, the exclamatory "O no!" to express how certain he is that true love does not alter according to changing circumstances. The rhyming couplet with which the poem closes ("prov'd ... lov'd") also suggests the speaker's certainty as it suggests finality and closure. The suggestion is that the speaker does not need to continue with his thoughts about what constitutes true love, because he is so certain that he has already arrived at the answer.

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The number and variety of literary devices that writers can apply to their work is so great as to make a complete and exhaustive compilation of them almost impossible, practically speaking. I think this is the case even in a shorter poem such as Shakespeare's Sonnet 116.

That being said, one device that I find particularly noticeable and attention-grabbing is Shakespeare's use of repetition, specifically on particular words. This effect can be seen in each of the poem's second through fourth lines, with the words "love," "alter," and "remove":

Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove.

This use of repetition has the effect of adding added emphasis to these specific words within the verse. Thus, even beyond the normal stressed-unstressed dynamic of traditional meter, this adds additional levels of stress on entire words, separate from the syllables that form them.

In addition, you can point towards various poetry-specific devices that would be common to all sonnets (given their formal structure): this poem, for example, has a consistent meter (being iambic pentameter) and a formal rhyme scheme (being abab, cdcd, efef, gg). Beyond these formal elements, you can also point towards Shakespeare's use of devices such as consonance, repeating the same consonant sounds. For example, in the poem's very first line, you can observe at least two separate examples of consonance working together with one another. Thus, "Let me not to the marriage of true minds" features repetition of both the m sound and t sound (alongside what looks like a possible third layer of consonance given the close proximity of the r sound linking the words "marriage" and "true").

All this being said, however, be aware that there might be an open question as to the degree to which Shakespeare used imperfect rhymes in this poem. After all, at first glance, this seems to be a common effect. Consider Shakespeare's linking of the words "love" with "remove," "come" with "doom," and at the very end, "proved" with "loved." However, here it is important to keep in mind that Shakespeare died over four hundred years ago, and four hundred years is a long time for linguistic drift (speaking in terms of the pronunciation of various words). With this in mind, it is worth questioning how these various words were pronounced in Shakespeare's own time, rather than our own. Perhaps some of these imperfect rhymes may have been full rhymes after all.

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What is a figure of speech in Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare?

In Sonnet 116, Shakespeare employs synecdoche in lines 1-2: "Let me not to the marriage of true minds / Admit impediments." Synecdoche is the use of a part of something to stand in for the whole thing. It isn't just people's minds that get married, it is the whole two individuals that wed. Therefore, "minds" stands in for the whole person. It's a somewhat ironic, or unexpected, choice because we typically think of romantic relationships as a joining of two hearts, if we use any part of the body to describe it. Irony occurs when reality differs from what we'd expect, and since we tend to associate the heart, not the mind, with love, such a choice is ironic.

Further, Shakespeare personifies "Love" as well as "Time," giving them human attributes and raising this story of love almost to the mythic since he ascribes intention and consciousness to intangible entities.

Shakespeare employs synecdoche again in lines 9-10: "Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks / Within his bending sickle's compass come." The sickle is a symbol of mortality (since we only have so much time before we are, figuratively, cut down by it), though time does not only claim our "rosy lips and cheeks"; again, it claims our whole selves. But this example of synecdoche allows Shakespeare to employ a visual image as well.

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What is a figure of speech in Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare?

Perhaps the most striking figure of speech in the poem comes in line 9. 

"Love's not Time's fool..."

This phrase expresses much of the poem's intention with a succinct and easily remembered turn of phrase, which makes it a figure of speech (as well as an example of figurative language). 

Comparing love to a fool, the phrase is an example of personification - giving human qualities to a non-human concept. Love, of course, is not a person and is not subject to the failures of conscience or intelligence that humans are subject to. This is part of the point. 

The poem suggests that true love is immovable. Love "alters not" with the passage of time. Rather, love is "an ever-fixed mark" that cannot be shaken by the vicissitudes of time. The timelessness or enduring qualities of love stands as the central theme and message of the poem. 

To say that love is not time's fool then is to say that true love is stable, lasting and, in a sense, absolute. 

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What is a figure of speech in Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare?

Shakespeare uses many types of figurative language in "Sonnet 116," particularly an extended metaphor to relate the idea of unchanging love to nautical terms.  In his opinion, love should be an "ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken;" a tempest is a violent squall, usually used to describe fast moving storms at sea (5). 

The next line reinforces Shakespeare's nautical extended metaphor by comparing the surety of true love to a star that "every wandering bark," or lost ship, could use to navigate themselves home safeley (7).  Through his use of extended metaphor, Shakespeare conveys the theme of steadfast love in the face of hardship.

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What are the figures of speech used in Sonnet 116?

There are several figures of speech used in this poem. For example, in line 7, Shakespeare writes that love "is the star to every wand'ring bark." This is an example of a metaphor. Love is not literally a star, but the metaphor here implies that love, like a star, is a point of light in the darkness, where the light symbolizes hope and the darkness symbolizes despair. The metaphorical star probably also alludes to the North Star, which appears always to remain in the same place in the sky and was thus used by sailors to reliably determine longitude and latitude. The metaphor suggests that love, like the North Star, can provide guidance for people who are otherwise lost.

In the second half of the poem, Shakespeare uses personification. He personifies "Time" as a figure like the notorious Grim Reaper, with a "bending sickle." The implication here is that "Time" is synonymous with death and brings decay and death to everybody and everything in the end. Shakespeare says that love, however, is the exception, and is "not Time's fool." Love, Shakespeare suggests, does not die or decay, but rather endures regardless of the passing of time.

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Discuss literary devices used in Sonnet 116.

There are many literary devices to be found in Shakespeare's Sonnet 116. To begin with, the fact that it adheres to the sonnet form means that Shakespeare is making use of a very specific structure and rhyme scheme, in this case the English sonnet (now often called the Shakespearean sonnet.) The primary feature of this type of sonnet is its conclusive rhyming couplet, which seems to summarize the thrust of each poem.

Shakespeare also uses repetition in this poem to underscore what he is saying, as in "alters ... alteration" and "remover ... remove."

Metaphor is used continuously in this poem, with love being described as an "ever-fixed mark" which cannot be "shaken" by tempests. This characterizes love as a physical thing, strong and sturdy enough to survive inclement weather.

Shakespeare continues the inclement weather theme by suggesting that love is also a "star" to any "wand'ring bark" that might need one. This means that love is like a star in the night sky which acts as a guide to lost ships.

A specific type of metaphor, personification, is used to describe "Time." The capitalization of time gives us some indication of what is going to happen before Shakespeare describes time as having a "bending sickle" with which he can cut down people in their prime. This is a grim reaper-like image of Father Time. But, Shakespeare argues, love (also personified) is not a "fool" in terms of time and will not succumb easily to the attack of his sickle. Love, on the contrary, should be unaffected by time.

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What are the various figures of speech used in Shakespeare's Sonnet 116?

The figurative language used in this poem is largely metaphorical. Shakespeare uses a number of metaphors to expound upon the idea of love as "an ever-fixed mark," something constant like a "star" by which ships might guide themselves because it is so dependable and unchanging. Like this star "to every wandering bark [ship]," love can endure "tempests" and yet never be "shaken" by them: true love can bear out disturbances, disruption, and unhappiness "even to the edge of doom."

Love in this poem is personified (and personification is a type of metaphor in itself). This is clearest toward the end of the sonnet, when the poet states that love is "not Time's fool." Though the "rosy cheeks and lips" that signify youth might "within his bending sickle's compass come," love itself will endure. This section is particularly dense with figures of speech. The "compass" of Time's sickle represents the circle within which his scythe can reach, like the circle that would be described in the grass around a person using a scythe to cut a lawn. Time himself is personified, and the description of him with a sickle evokes the traditional image of Father Time as an old man with a scythe and black cloak. Meanwhile, Love itself will not be cut down by this sickle, even if the trappings of youth are killed by Time—love will survive. We could argue, too, that love is personified from the beginning of the poem, being granted human attributes and agency—love does not "alter when it alteration finds," nor does it "bend with the remover to remove." Rather than love being something to which things are done by others, love is presented as something steadfast, with its own agency, which leads into the later metaphors.

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What are the various figures of speech used in Shakespeare's Sonnet 116?

The sonnet is a veritable feast of metaphors!  Shakespeare compares love to symbols of constancy:

"an ever fixed mark" - love is permanent and cannot be changed or removed.

"star" - a guide to follow, to avoid becoming lost.

It also uses personification, saying that even as love ages (as a person does), it does not change.  Love will even last beyond death.

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Discuss three figures of speech used in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116

Given the fact that the Sonnet's focus is the description of love, I think that you could find much in it to serve as a figure of speech.  In my mind, one of the strongest figures of speech would be the description of love as a star in the heavens.  In lines 5 and 6, Shakespeare describes love as a "fixed mark, that looks on tempests and is never shaken."  The comparison of love as a star in the heavens to which all aspire and direct their attention connotes the celestial condition of true love and emphasizes its "other worldly" quality.  Another example of figurative language would be lines 9 and 10, where Shakespeare describes love as something that is not "Time's fool."  The implication here is to use figurative language in describing love as something permanent, not to be withered through the impact of time.  In describing it as "time's fool," Shakespeare might be suggesting that love carries with it a sense of lasting.   I would argue that the last example of figurative language could be found using the same type of analysis as outlined above. In the opening lines, I would submit that one can find an example of figurative language in how Shakespeare conceptualizes love.  In attempting to find examples of figurative language, seek to find ways that Shakespeare describes what love is.  In the opening lines lies one such example.

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