Love in Sonnet 116

528 Words3 Pages
Shakespeare has a difficulty in defining love. The negation of ‘not’ in “love is not love” shows this. The syntax and line break, with the use of a semi colon after “impediments;” shows the tangled definition. It is easier to define love by what its not, than what it is and trying to put your finger on it. If it is real love, it does not disappear, it only “alters” or “bends”. “Let me not to the marriage of true minds 
Admit impediments. Love is not love 
Which alters when it alteration finds, 
Or bends with the remover to remove:” If love alters or takes on another form in any way it is not love, for love as he sees it cannot be harmed or change. This is a very philosophical and obviously a poet's view of love. We will have to assume that what Shakespeare means is that love between people can change, but love as an idea will never wither or die. This sonnet attempts to define love, by telling both what it is and is not. In the first quatrain, the speaker says that love—”the marriage of true minds”—is perfect and unchanging; it does not “admit impediments,” and it does not change when it find changes in the loved one. In the second quatrain, the speaker tells what love is through a metaphor: a guiding star to lost ships (“wandering barks”) that is not susceptible to storms (it “looks on tempests and is never shaken”). In the third quatrain, the speaker again describes what love is not: it is not susceptible to time. Though beauty fades in time as rosy lips and cheeks come within “his bending sickle’s compass,” love does not change with hours and weeks: instead, it “bears it out even to the edge of doom.” In the couplet, the speaker attests to his certainty that love is as he says: if his statements can be proved to be error, he declares, he must never have written a word, and no man can ever have been in love. Love is not real if it alters when circumstances
Open Document