Shakespeare's Sonnets

Let Me Not To the Marriage of True Minds

The theme of Love’s constancy and everlasting nature permeates each line of Shakespeare’s 116th sonnet. Sonnet 116 “is about love in its most ideal form, praising the glories of lovers who have come to each other freely, and enter into a relationship based on trust and understanding” (Mabillard). It attempts to define love by stating both what it is and what it is not.

According to T.G. Tucker, Shakespeare strongly supported the idea of marriage and even alludes to a marriage service with his word play in the first two lines of the work. Those lines are “echoes of The Book of Common Prayer”: “If any of you know cause, or just impediment, why these two persons should not be joined together in holy matrimony, ye are to declare it” (Davies).

The sonnet’s first quatrain introduce the theme of true, steadfast love. The first two lines explain that true love, the “marriage of true minds”, does not “admit impediments” or change when a loved one changes; thus, it is unconditional. The third and fourth lines inform the reader what love is not. It does not “bend” or waver when faced with external pressures such as temptation from other lovers, and it is not changeable (Sonnet).

While the first quatrain states what love is not, the second...

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