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I Never Writ Nor No Man Ever Loved

820 words - 4 pages

In typical English sonnet fashion, William Shakespeare deals with issues of love throughout “Sonnet 116.” He discusses both what love is and what it is not throughout the three quatrains, only to prove his argument in the heroic couplet. Shakespeare employs shifts in rhythm and various images in order to express the idea that true love does not change based on circumstance or time but remains ever pure and strong.
Using shifts in the iambic meter, especially in the first quatrain, Shakespeare punctuates his main idea. He wants to show that “Love is not love / Which alters when it alteration finds” (2-3), and that it doesn't bend “with the remover to remove” (4). To highlight ...view middle of the document...

” Shakespeare continues to use the language of contrast in the quatrain saying “it is an ever fixed mark” (5), and it “is never shaken” (6). This dichotomy creates tension and perhaps even confusion in the image, as to whether love should be seen as a ship or star, but the confusion seems appropriate when one considers the image itself; a “wandering” ship in a “tempest” does not elicit feelings of certainty, though love will weather the storm it may not always be the smoothest sailing.
To the notion of love's capacity to endure hardship, Shakespeare adds imagery displaying true love's longevity. In the third quatrain, he sharpens the image giving it more attention, more detail and focusing on the one image for the length of the quatrain. In this section those things often associated with love “rosy lips and cheeks” (9) - typical symbols of youth, beauty, and passion - are cut down by “Time's . . . sickle,” but true love remains. Once again he emphasizes what love is not, claiming that time, personified and treated as the grim reaper, has not power over a love that last “even to the edge of doom” (12). The image operates without clearly defining love, yet the reader's sense of what one can definitely say about love grows because the image does clarify what characteristic it must have: endurance. He once...

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