Adrienne Rich's Poetry and Prose

True Love in Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 and Adrienne Rich's "Living in Sin"

Both Rich and Shakespeare address the theme of true love in their respective poems Living in Sin and Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds. The subject matter of both poems deals with the nature of true love, various implications of which are explored by each poet. However, similarity in theme does not guarantee in any way agreement in treatment; it can be argued that both poems take opposite or paradoxical views of the same concept. While Shakespeare portrays his view of the ideal love with great conviction, Rich in a seemingly careless series of disjointed images represents a realistic depiction of the situation of two lovers. Put simply, or even simplistically, it may be argued that Shakespeare takes the Romantic view of love while Rich takes the Realistic one. A closer examination of both poems will help in the understanding of how each treats and represents the theme of true love.

It is interesting to note the Christian allusions pertaining to marriage in both poems. In Shakespeare's Sonnet 116, he says, “Let me not to the marriage of true minds/ Admit impediments”, bringing clearly to mind the traditional Christian wedding ceremony in which those who do admit impediments are asked to “speak now or forever hold...

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