Reader Response Analysis to Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116
According to the Bible (1 Corinthians, 13: 4-5), “Love is patient. Love is kind. Love never ends.” Sonnet 116 by Shakespeare is a declaration of his belief about true love between the opposite sexes. William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is considered by many to be one of the finest writers in history. “Shakespeare composed 154 sonnets in his lifetime. He is noted as being the first writer to be commemorated at the Westminster Abbey‘s poet’s corner,” writes the author from www.onlineshakespeare.com/sonnetsabout.htm. Sonnet 116 is one of Shakespeare’s most perfect and most effortless poems ever written. The structure of the poem is fairly simple. Each quatrain describes Shakespeare’s attempt to elucidate to his readers what love is not and what love is with the final couplet reaffirming his words by placing his own merit on the line.
In the first quatrain, Shakespeare starts out his poem by expressing his deep understanding that “Love is not love” between two people “Which alters when it alteration finds,” (Lines 2 – 3, Shakespeare). As time goes by, many temptations such as meeting someone else who seems to be more desirable to ones eyes as opposed to their current partner, will present itself to two people who are in a relationship to test their love with one another. If one of the partners allows or “alters” himself by giving in to the temptation or “alteration” in the form of cheating from his partner, then according to Shakespeare that person is not truly in love. Consequently, if the partner who has been betrayed turns around and walk away from the relationship, then that means he or she is not in love either. Shakespeare’s view about what love is not is clearly supported in line four (4) of Sonnet 116 in which he writes, “Or bends with the remover to remove.” “Remover” stands for the “betrayal” and “to remove” which stands for “to give up”.
In the second quatrain, Shakespeare clearly states that true love is unchanging and neverending, despite of changing circumstances, such as betrayals and infidelity. According to Shakespeare, true love is an “ever fixed mark, never shaken, and it is the star of every wandering bark,” (Lines 5-7, Shakespeare). The reader can very well view the words “mark and star” as metaphors and personifications in stating that love is everlasting and can be used as a guide or “mark” in life. By following their hearts, people can use love as a guide to get them through life. The word “star” may also symbolize the permanence of true love between two people, as such that star takes its permanent place in the sky. In addition according to Shakespeare, love is also “never shaken,” which means that regardless of how big the challenges are that life throws at the two people who are in love to try to break them apart, true love will prevail. Love will serve as glue for the two people to stay together and to work through things together no matter what.
Finally, the last couplet of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 is his way of bringing his theme of the poem home. He writes, “If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man loved,” (Lines 13 – 14, Shakespeare). Shakespeare cleverly closes his poem by using his credibility as one of the masters in the English Literature, as his way to convince his readers that his belief about love is 100% correct. Otherwise, if he is wrong about what he thinks love is, then he must take back all of his writings in the past about love, and no man have never experienced true love. From the readers perspective, Shakespeare’s final thoughts are two of his strongest lines in Sonnet 116. His deep emotion and passion about his belief on love are revealed. One can definitely agree with the author’s comment from www.onlineshakespeare.com/sonnetsabout.htm that states, “Shakespeare’s personal life is strongly reflected in his sonnets.”
Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 truly is a pure joy to read. Many of Shakespeare’s readers if not all, who are blessed to experience the pleasure of being in love with that special someone can definitely agree with his famous interpretation about true love. It makes one wonder that love can definitely makes one blind. Given the circumstances, one knows for a fact that he may be in love with the wrong person, yet his love towards his beloved is as strong as stone and is immeasurable. When one is in love, no matter how difficult and unhealthy the relationship is becoming, one will be forever kind and patient to his partner with his every effort to rebuild the relationship; A relationship that is built with a strong foundation of True Love. This is a special kind of relationship between the opposite sexes that will last a lifetime. Just as the Bible states, “Love is kind. Love is patient. Love never ends.”
 Westminster Abbey is a living Church, part of the Church of England: a House of God, where almighty God is worshipped daily, continuing a 1400-year tradition in this place. Westminster Abbey is the House of Kings, where the coronation of Kings and Queens has taken place since 1066, and where many of the Kings and Queens of England and of the United Kingdom are buried, according to www.westminster–abbey.org.