It is pretty commonly known in the world of literature that Shakespeare is one of, if not the best storyteller/ playwright of all time. His use of the English language and understanding of it is one of the reasons we think of him in this light. Shakespeare’s able to construct complex metaphors and double entendres to make brilliant sonnets and plays shows his greatness. One sonnet for example sonnet 116 is a very good show of shakespeare’s ability. In Sonnet 116 shakespeare tries to describe what love is by giving examples on what it is and isn’t. This is what Shakespeare would have written if he wrote in modern text “Let me not input any reason why two loyal people should not be married. Love is not love if it changes when the lovers situations change. Or bends when the lover is away. O no! Love is an ever-fixed mark (immovable object). That can look and storms and is never scared. It is a star that guides everyone’s journey. Whose worth is unknown but height can be calculated. Love is not bound by time, However physical beauty is. When there’s life death will follow. Love is not altered by hours or weeks. But can endure the test of time going till death.” the Speaker now breaks the 4th wall and states. “That if there be an error on my view of love, then I take back all that I have written, and i and no man has ever loved.” As shown in sonnet 116 shakespeare uses Descriptive metaphors, contradictory tone, and cryptic imagery to convey his theme that true love is magical and unbreakable.
In the beginning of the sonnet in the first quatrain shakespeare starts the sonnet by basically saying “let me not judge two people that have found true love. Love is not love if it changes when there are different circumstances.” then in the next quatrain talks about how strong love is and what it can do for you. “Oh no love is an ever fixed mark (immovable object). That is not scared by the most violent of storms. It is the star that leads travelers home. Love is unknown if it will work for you but if it does it’s amazing.” and in the last quatrain shakespeare gives us an idea that love is even stronger than death. “From life until death comes for you. Love does not change of hours and weeks. But goes on until your last beating moment.” after this last quatrain is where we hit the volta or turning point of the sonnet. Shakespeare breaks the 4th wall and says. “If i’m proved wrong about my thoughts on love then i take back all that i have written because that means that i and no man has ever truly loved.” This is the turning point because before the volta shakespeare was saying how truly love is 100% unbreakable, but now his new view on the topic is that if he is wrong about his view no love then no man has ever loved. As the entire sonnet before this point was about how unbreakable true love was now he is saying what really is “love” and has anyone experienced it.
Throughout sonnet 116 shakespeare uses a very contradictory tone, meaning shakespeare keeps mentioning the theme of his sonnet by giving examples to what it is and isn’t. In line 2-4 in quatrain 1 shakespeare says “love is not love which alters when it alterations finds, or bends with the remover to remove.” This line is an example of Shakespeare saying what love isn’t. Shakespeare intelligently gives us ideas to what love is by saying what it isn’t. then in quartian two lines 5-8 shakespeare finally tells us what love is. “O no! it is an ever-fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wand’ring bark, Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.” This time shakespeare in a very metaphoric way tells us what love is, and he tries telling us that love is unbreakable and glorious by giving us various examples. In lines 9-12 in quatrain 3 shakespeare writes “Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle’s compass come; Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom.” Instead of saying what love is or isn’t like the first 2 quatrains in the third quatrain shakespeare instead of picking what love is or isn’t he said what it was and wasn’t in the same quartain. This is the part of the sonnet where he really tells us what love is also but telling us what it isn’t so that there are no misconceptions of what love truly is. And when the rhyming couplets come along in line 13-14 he keeps up this tone still by saying “If this be error and upon me prov’d, I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.” In these final two lines shakespeare using his contradictory tone contradicts the entire sonnet by saying in the end that his views might be wrong, but if they are no one has ever truly loved. Ending the sonnet with the same tone the he started with to add to the mystery of love. Another big part of Shakespeare’s sonnets is his use of imagery. Some uses of imagery in sonnet 116 are in lines 5,6,7 in the second quatrain where shakespeares is describing love says. “O no! it is an ever-fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken;” This gives the reader the ability to imagine an object (love) that is indestructible not succumbing to the force or will of a furious storm. Another example is in line 7 where Shakespeare writes “It is the star to every wand’ring bark,” this gives the illusion of being out on a boat in the ocean alone at night looking up and seeing that North star to guide you on your journey. These images are not just an elegant way to word a poem they help you picture in your own head what the author (Shakespeare) is trying to get across to you. They also help you to experience the poem as while you are reading you are picturing these images helping you follow along with the author’s tone and feel for the poem.
One of the reasons we remember Shakespeare is because of his use of the english language. Shakespeare’s diction was and is to this day out of this world. In Shakespeare’s poems there are many accounts of words that people don’t know or understand and in sonnet 116 there are examples of them. However there might not be any unusual in the context of the poem there is a word In line 6 that Shakespeare’s uses that is not a dead word but is a word that is not used a lot today and that word is “Tempest.” Tempest by definition means “a violent windy storm.” Shakespeare known for his word play and double entendres doesn’t really use any in this poem. Shakespeare also loved to fill his poem with Figurative language and he did just that in sonnet 116. Lines 5-6 in the second quatrain Shakespeare says “O no! it(love) is an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken.” This is Shakespeare using a metaphor to compare love to an “ever fixed mark” because he is trying to portray love as a force that cannot be moved or shaken. This line is also symbolism because the tempest is a symbolizing bad times in life and they can be tough but love can get you through it .Shakespeare uses another metaphor in line 7 when he says “It(love) is the star to every wandering bark,” This line Shakespeare is comparing love to a star in the night sky that is supposed to guide wanderers on their journey. This also another use symbolism and saying that love should be that beacon that should help guide you through your journey through life. The way Shakespeare uses the figures of speech have a massive impact on his poem in a positive way. The comparisons that he makes between love and the examples he gives kind of make a parallel into real life and are supposed to be life lessons that Shakespeare is trying to instill in the reader.
Throughout sonnet 116 Shakespeare tries to explain to us what love is. He gives us many reasons for what it is and isn’t, and ultimately in the end questioning if anyone really knows what love is. But Mr. Foley if you haven’t fallen asleep yet while reading this, these are examples to how Shakespeare is able to use Descriptive metaphors, contradictory tone, and cryptic imagery to convey his theme that true love is magical and unbreakable in sonnet 116. While also making an amazing and elegant pom in the process.