Allusion in Sonnet 116

Allusion Examples in Sonnet 116:

Sonnet 116 5

"edge of doom...."   (Sonnet 116)

The religious theme the speaker introduces in the first quatrain is reiterated here. Ideal love, not subject to the fickleness of time, lasts until “the edge of doom.” “Doom” here alludes to the biblical conception of Last Judgment, the point where time ends and all human souls are judged by God. The speaker’s implicit claim is that his idealized model of love will be well-judged by God.

"Love is not love..."   (Sonnet 116)

“Love is not love” also alludes to a famous biblical episode in which Moses requests God’s name. God replies, “I am that I am” (Exodus 3:14). The negative logic of “Love is not love” suggests that the non-ideal love the speaker defines is unholy. This spiritual context becomes important in the final quatrain.

" rosy lips and cheeks ..."   (Sonnet 116)

“Rosy lips and cheeks” can also be read as an allusion to Cupid, the childlike, winged god of love. Cupid is the god of desire, erotic love, and attraction. In this metaphor, the speaker distinguishes his love, the marriage of true minds, from this ephemeral physical love. He does this to assert that his love is everlasting, not subject to time’s “sickle” as physical attraction is.

"Admit impediments..."   (Sonnet 116)

The sonnet’s opening lines draw from the language of the marriage ceremony in the Book of Common Prayer, which discusses the “union of true minds” as well as the declaration of “any impediment why they may not be coupled together.” The speaker’s use of this language gives the opening quatrain a legalese tone.

"true minds..."   (Sonnet 116)

The speaker sets the stage by defining the type of love he idealizes: the “marriage of true minds.” This marriage is a platonic relationship. “Mind” evokes the cartesian duality of mind versus body; the emphasis on the former suggests a nonsexual union.