The Structure And Language Of Sonnet 116 By William Shakespeare

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Known as one of the most influential writers of his time, William Shakespeare is hailed across the centuries for his writings and discussion of abstract concepts. In ‘Sonnet 116’, he attempts to evaluate the true meaning of love. Shakespeare exploits structure and language of ‘Sonnet 116’ to convey his idyllic values and beliefs about what love should be, and what that means for himself and his audience. The poet reveals his values and beliefs through poetic structure, Iambic pentameter, and personification.

The structure of ‘Sonnet 116’ is composed to formulate Shakespeare’s quixotic concept of love. Throughout the three quatrains and couplet, the poet changes how he describes love; as what love is not, what it is, and what love is capable of. Quatrain one introduces the primary idea, that is, what Shakespeare’s version of love is not. According to ‘Sonnet 116’: “Love is not love if it alters when it alteration finds/
Or bends with the remover to remove”.
Essentially, Shakespeare’s message in quatrain one is that love is not love if it changes when the context changes, or leaves when there is nothing to be loved. The second quatrain illustrates what Shakespeare thinks love is, by describing it as an “ever-fixed mark […] [that] is never shaken;”. The understanding presented in quatrain two, that love is unwavering and unchanging, is a clear distinction to quatrain one, where Shakespeare uses the same two concepts to highlight what love is not. Thus, it can be
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