Shakespeare’s sonnet 116 is the most cherished sonnets of English poetry that takes into account a conventional subject. The beauty of this sonnet lies with the simple poetic diction and the originality of thematic expressions. It further describes some other themes but they primarily remain subservient to the primary theme i. e. true nature of love in its most pure and ideal form. It is in this sonnet that Shakespeare unlocks his heart. It possesses a sincerity of tone, literary qualities of high order and perfection in phraseology. The sincerity of tone is manifested by the determined words.
These determined words are not sentimental in essence by touch every cord of heart by its sincerity and dedication to the ideal form of love. His assertion that true love does not “admit impediments” reflects that lover wants purity of feeling and this purity must not be altered by any temporal or physical change. Another manifestation of poet’s sincerity toward true and ideal love is the simplicity of the structure of the sonnet. Truth and sincerity need not exalted and high-sounding phrases and intricacies of speech to assert their longing for something.
This happens in this sonnet. We see that unlike use of exalted poetic diction in other Shakespearean sonnets, Shakespeare use simple phrases and diction to avow his true love. Each Quatrain simply explains what the proper characteristics of a true love are. Shakespeare talk about “marriage of true mind” and this shows that love is not all about physical union but it is a mutual relationship of minds that weathers all storms and crosses all impediments. So pure love is not physical in nature but has spiritual and psychological connotations.
So this kind of love has no barrier in its way for consummation as it is not something physical. If again there is impediment, it is not true love has physical impurities. Love is not love in its true spirit if it changes whenever it finds an opportunity. Although its elevation is identified and recognized but its true value is unknown. Love is not subordinate to time even though the beauty of the beloved fades with the passage of time. Love does not become lighter with time. So he shows the real worth of this type of love that is priceless and timeless.
First two quatrains emphasize and reemphasize by inculcating strong feeling of awe about true worth of true love. Shakespeare does not waste words to introduce his theme. Opening lines bring in the main theme of the quickly and he pours out his heart by asserting that true love recognizes no obstacle and if it recognizes it is not true love. First quatrain elaborate this theme by stating that true love in unchanging. Unlike other Shakespearean sonnets, this sonnet does not show a twist of theme in the third quatrain but there is extension of the theme.
Poet’s sincerity is so strong that he puts at stake the most important possession of his life for his affirmation on the nature of true love i. e. fame and reputation earned through poetry. He says that he will take back all his writings on love proven that he assertion above about nature of love are wring or even inappropriate. This again lends authenticity to his claims. So by the end of the sonnet, one truthfully starts believing in his philosophy of love and admiring his sincerity.