Shakespeare's Sonnet CXVI

             By looking closely at the sonnet, consider to what extent its particular techniques add to the impact of its subject matter.

             The sonnet 'Let me not to the marriage of true minds' written by Shakespeare is about constant love. There are three quatrains that are about the three stages in true love and a final couplet.

             The poem is a sonnet because it has fourteen lines in iambic pentameter. In the fourteen lines of the sonnet there are three quatrains and a final couplet. This is the structure of all sonnets. The rhyming scheme was fixed with the pattern of abab cdcd efef gg. The three quatrains were all on the subject of love and how it is kept constant.

             In the first quatrain Shakespeare uses alliteration with the letter 'm'. He wrote "Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments.” The 'm' sound is smooth, and makes the beginning of the quatrain be in a relaxed mood and in harmony, so it is like the start of a relationship. Also in this quatrain repetition is used with 'love', 'remove' and 'alter'. These also make the poem sound smooth and also secure because words are used twice. Using repetition also reinforces the idea of constancy, which is like the love in this sonnet.

             In quatrain two the main technique is metaphors, using sea imagery. Shakespeare says love is "an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken”. He is comparing love to a lighthouse, as however stormy the sea is for ships, the lighthouse will always be there to guide them, and even though in a relationship there may be arguments, there will still be love. With a similar idea Shakespeare says, "It [love] is the star to every wandering bark”. He is saying that a star guides a lost ship in the right direction, this is like love, which guides people and shows them the direction they need. Throughout the third quatrain there is an extended metaphor. Shakespeare uses the word "compass” which is used in ships.

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