What is love? "Sonnet 116" by William Shakespeare seeks to tell the reader just what it is. Or even better, what it is not. Love is not just word, but more of a spiritual feeling. It can't be changed once it is set in motion. This poem reminds the reader of the true importance of love. Shakespeare plainly portrays that love is one of the strongest things which exist today because it can't be altered.
Love has been known to have many different meanings. The first definition on dictionary. com states that love is a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. Shakespeare appears to think that love is slightly more important than only a feeling. "Whose worth unknown, although his height be taken" (8) is a definite example of just that. Love can't be measured or calculated. There is a lot symbolism involved with this poem. Once the poem speaks of any star, it is talking about the North Star. This star has been used for decades as the star leading traveling wanderers. While the distance of the star can be calculated by science and various kinds of measurements, its value can't ever be set. That is directly associated with love, because similar to the star, love cannot have a set value.
Love has been known to also be a spiritual emotion. As Lukas states in his article Theological Implications in Sonnet 116, "God-given love is also suggested by the religious context within which the sonnet is positioned. " (295). The first lines of the poem start talking about the "marriage of true minds" (1). This is obviously talking about a religious ceremony. Shakespeare is applying this passage to bring over the point that human love is something that goes beyond words. It goes into a complete different realm of feeling and emotion.
This sonnet is merely a perfect exemplory case of the vastness of love. "Love is not love which alters, when it alteration finds" (2) shows this at its core. Nothing can bend or change love in any way. Although some people believe in falling out of love, it isn't something that I feel can be carried out. Being in love is something so sincere, so perfect and imperfect at exactly the same time. Things come along in life that try to take the importance of love from us, but Shakespeare was aiming to portray the easy fact that can't be done. When love is true, when it's real and deep, it cannot be altered. Shakespeare uses similes a lot throughout this sonnet to show this fact. "Love's not time's fool" (12) is an example of this. Love is not, and can never be, at the mercy of time. When in love, you can feel like a second is actually days and months, because being with the one you love is really as if you were standing still with time. It feels as if the world is moving around you, but the only thing that matters is your love. This may seem corny to numerous people, but to those who have felt love, it is the most amazing thing that exists. This is what Shakespeare was trying to portray. Love is something that is so excellent and powerful, it can't be measured.
So a lot of things in life are extracted from us daily. Material things come and go in one day to the next. With this sonnet, Shakespeare tries to show that the one constant part of life, the thing that cannot be taken from us, is love. He calls it an "ever fixed mark that looks on tempests and is also never shaken. " This is true about love. Once love has set itself in to the soul, it will not be moved. Love laughs in the face of whatever opposes it. If for reasons uknown "love" is taken, then it was never there to get started with. It was false. You can find wars all around the world. People fighting to keep what's truly there. Will you say that love is one of those things? I believe that Shakespeare would. There's a regular war against love. There will always be something in the way of discovering that true happiness. Love "bears it out even to the edge of doom" (12). Here Shakespeare says that it does not matter what will come in this life. It does not matter what obstacles cross our paths when real love is present, because it cannot be taken from us. Numerous material things in this life come and go with time. With time, value also fades. Love is not included in either of the statements. Love is not material, therefore cannot be taken from you as though by force. It also does not have any value. It is not value-less in the sense that it's worth nothing. On the other hand, it has much value that it can never be measured at all. This sonnet tells of most these exact things. Shakespeare is so sure of what he writes, that he ends his sonnet saying "if this be error and after me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved" (14). The confidence that he shows in his beliefs makes the statements that much stronger. If he is proven wrong, he says he has never really written, no man ever really loved. This proves that not only did he believe it, but he must have lived it as well. It appears impossible a man, who spoke so eloquently about love, and with such passion, may have gone through life without feeling the immensity than it himself. Love is the greatest thing that exists today. Shakespeare knew it in his time, and it is something perfectly known today. Through the entire centuries, it is one of the only real things that has remained a continuous in society and personal lives. It cannot be altered, in case it was somewhat altered, then it was never true to begin with.