Sonnet 116 Essay

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In 'Sonnet 116', Shakespeare presents his ideas about what love is, with reference to romantic love. We can deduce that he writes of romantic love through the phrase "Let me not... admit impediments", which is reminiscent of marriage vows. Shakespeare outlines his definition of love through a series of images, which is developed through his use of the sonnet form. First of all, Shakespeare believes that love in its truest sense is unchanging. He writes, "love is not love / Which alters when it alteration finds". By stating "love is not love", he attempts to undermine the very definition of 'love', reshaping it into his own ideal. Furthermore, the repetition of words such as 'love', 'alter' and 'remove' show a lack of variety in vocabulary, therefore reflecting the constancy of true love. However, by slightly altering the word in the repetition, such as 'remover' and 'remove', or 'alters' and 'alteration', Shakespeare is highlighting the frequency of changes within relationships, and therefore suggests that few examples of love will survive these and therefore prove themselves to be 'true'. Moreover, Shakespeare presents love as a nurturing and guiding influence. He writes "It is an ever fixed mark / That looks on tempests and is never shaken", thus likening love to a celestial presence, connoting guidance and goodness. Indeed, by using the metaphor of a "star to every wandering bark", the image of a star adds to the notion of a guiding presence, adding the idea that it gives light, and therefore hope and joy. Comparing a romantic relationship to a "wandering bark" and "tempests" shows Shakespeare's acknowledgement that relationships are not perfect and without their troubles, suggesting that exterior influences can steer them off course. The wholesomeness of love is also developed in the colour imagery of "rosy lips and cheeks", which suggest youth, beauty and
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