Themes in Sonnet 116

Themes Examples in Sonnet 116:

Sonnet 116 4

"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)

The phrase “Love is not love” further emphasizes the separation between platonic and erotic love. To the speaker, capital-L “Love” refers to his ideal model of love, a platonic meeting of “true minds.” On the other hand, “love” with a lower-case “l” is erotic, fickle, and always seeking change.

"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.

"fixed mark..."   (Sonnet 116)

Depicting this love as a “fixed mark” paints it as an objective or goal for all lovers. While the first quatrain fluctuates back and forth between parallel words and the grey areas between their differences—alters/alteration, remover/remove— “fixed mark” represents the singular nature of this love. The speaker is now defining the stable marriage of two minds rather than fickle physical love.