Question: Discuss the presentation of love and/or death in two or more poems
Love is a theme prevalent in texts throughout the ages. However, never has the theme been explored as thoroughly than in William Shakespeares’ sonnets. In Shakespeares’ sonnet 116, the poet constructs his ideal perception of what love should be. It praises the glories of lovers who have formed a relationship based on truth and understanding and where time and other impediments may not remove this perfect love. In sonnet 138, the love that he describes, is far from the perfect love described in sonnet 116. The poem is cynical about love and shows love as involving deception and pretence. These sonnets achieve these profound and yet opposing images of love through the poetic conventions of diction, figurative language and structure.
The diction Shakespeare uses in both sonnets is very effective in conveying his theme of love. In sonnet 116, the theme of true love is very clear in the way the poet persuades us that: -
“Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds,”
which connotes that love in its most ideal form means no changes need to be made to the personality of either lover and understand each other. Another example of the implications of love comes in: -
“Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come”
This phrase shows that “Love” is not at the mercy of “Time”, even though Time may take away “rosy lips and cheeks” which is a symbol of youth. What Shakespeare is suggesting, is that true love remains with a couple to their deathbed.
In sonnet 138 the subjects reject this concept of true love and instil a false love, which is comfortable for them. When the woman he loves “swears” she is true, he pretends to believe her in order to seem simple and inexperienced, so that he can seem young. This illusion doesn’t fool anyone as demonstrated i...