There be dragons!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The misreading of sonnet 116


Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

He doesn’t speak of a marriage of bodies, a carnal or corporeal marriage, but instead a marriage of “minds”. The speaker says,

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. (lines 1-4)

This disembodied marriage of minds suggests a Manichean detachment from the physical. The idea is furthered when he suggests that such a love is unchanging. Only things that are dead are unchanging, which suggests a dead rather than living love.

The analysis is here at these three videos:

I publish the Banns of Marriage between M. of ----- and N. of -----. If any of you know cause, or just impediment, why these two persons should not be joined together in holy Matrimony, ye are to declare it. This is the first [second, or third] time of asking. WITH this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Solemnization of the wedding vows, Anglican Church.

A submerged emblem in Sonnet 116 (Doebler)

A Note on Sonnet 116 (Daly)

Detachment and Engagement in Shakespeare's Sonnets: 94, 116, and 129 (Neely)

The Coherence and the Context of Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 (Roessner)

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