Tone in Sonnet 116

Tone Examples in Sonnet 116:

Sonnet 116 3

"O no!..."   (Sonnet 116)

The exclamation “O no!” also defines a tonal shift. The first quatrain is mired in dry, legal language. The second and third quatrains, by contrast, depict stars, storms, ships at sea, Father Time’s sickle, and Doomsday. As he transitions into a positive definition of love, the imagery becomes lively, the tone romantic.

"proved..."   (Sonnet 116)

“Proved” returns to the legal language of the first quatrain. This marks a tonal shift back to the stark, black and white logic that we saw at the beginning of the poem. While the middle of the poem explores romantic images and sentiments, the end offers a final, concrete point that asserts the speaker’s claim.

"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.