This study guide will help you analyze the poem “Sonnet 116” by William Shakespeare. You can also find a summary of the poem, as well as ideas for interpreting it and putting it into perspective.
Presentation of the poem
Title: “Sonnet 116” (1609)
Author: William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare is one of the most famous English playwrights and poets who ever lived. Surprisingly little is known about his life. He was born in 1564 in England, and before his death in 1613 he wrote at least 37 plays and a large number of sonnets (fourteen-line love poems written according to a strict format of rhyme and rhythm).
In 1609, Shakespeare published a now-famous collection of 154 sonnets. The first 126 of these are addressed to a “fair youth”, an attractive young man. This is not very clear from “Sonnet 116”, though. It is thought that Shakespeare wrote his sonnets in the 1590s and early 1600s.
In William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 116”, the speaker says he will not acknowledge any obstacles to two truly loving minds coming together. Love isn’t really love if it changes when it experiences change. Instead, love is an eternally fixed point, like a priceless star that guides traveling ships. Even though youth and beauty fade, love lasts forever. Finally, the speaker claims that he is sure he is telling the truth.
In our topic guide on William Shakespeare and his texts in general, you can find a lot of information about how to analyze the texts. You can also read about Shakespeare's historical context (the elizabethan era) and much, much more.