Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare

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About the poet:

  • Best known writer in the anthology 
  • Regarded as best English writter
  • He was famous at the time he wrote this poem
  • This poem was written to a man, along with a lot of Shakespeare's sonnets (could be platonic or romantic - this is controversial) 

The Original Sonnet Structure/Form:

  • Always a love poem from a man to women
  • 14 lines
  • First octave (8 lines) pose a problem
  • Last seset solves the problem
  • Line 9 (volta) is a sharp turn which brings about the move to the resolution 
  • ABBA rhymn scheme 

The Shakespearian Sonnet:

  • 14 lines
  • Divided into three quatraints and a couplet
  • The volta comes in the couplet
  • Iambic pentameter


Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impendiments, love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove

  • 'marriage' 'minds' - alliteration suggests they have to be compatible with each other, love is deeper than physical looks, joining together of two compatible intellects, marriage is a non plationic love
  • 'true' 'admit impediments' - if love is true they will overcome all obsticles, 'impediments' comes from the marriage vows, marriage and romance 
  • 'alters when it alteration finds' - true loves does not change due to unexpected cirumstances, play on life 'altar'- image of marriage, romantic language infused 
  • 'bends with the remover to remove' - near repetition suggests that love is constant, it won't change the way appearances do, snese


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