Irony in Sonnet 116

Irony Examples in Sonnet 116:

Sonnet 116 3

"loved..."   (Sonnet 116)

The use of “loved” in the past tense undermines the speaker’s own model of love. According to his views, love is eternal and “not Time’s fool.” By hinging his argument for timeless love on the existence of men who have “loved”—suggesting that love is time-bound—, he weakens his own claim.

"  I never writ, nor no man ever loved...."   (Sonnet 116)

“I never writ, nor no man ever loved” are two obviously absurd claims. People have loved throughout history and the existence of the text alone proves that the speaker has “writ.” By presenting these objectively undeniable claims, the speaker tries to make his claims about love similarly undeniable. Ironically, this rhetorical movement weakens his claim.

" I never writ..."   (Sonnet 116)

“I never writ” is ironic here because it takes place in a printed sonnet. The very fact that the reader is reading these lines proves the speaker’s point: I have written therefore my description of love is true. The sonnet’s placement in the sequence bolsters the strength of the phrase. If the reader has read 116 sonnets, it is clear that the speaker “has writ.”