Introduction to Western Literature, Fall, 1999

Examination on Poetry Section B

Read and analyze the following sonnet by Shakespeare, using the following questions as guidelines.

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 wand'ring 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.

    1. Paraphrase the poem and tell what the poem is about. What is love, according to the speaker? (Sample )

    2. Discuss the significance of its syntax, sentence structures to see if there is any special effect or meaning that is conveyed in the sentence structure.. (Sample)

    3. Analyze its structure. Is there any development or reinforcement in the way love is defined? (Sample)

    4. Who could be the speaker? Who could be the listener? What could be the situation? Do you think the listener will agree with the speaker? Why or why not? What is the speaker's tone, his/her implied attitude to love in the poem? Playful, sincere? Ironic? Sad? Cheerful?(Sample)

    5. What images do you see/hear/smell/touch/taste here in the poem, if there is any?(Sample)

    6. Why does the speaker choose to use "marriage" of true minds to describe love? What is the effect of such diction, the word choice? Can you try to find the pattern between changing/unchanging in the words that the speaker uses in the poem? How does the pattern help reinforce the statement that love does not alter?(Sample)

    7. Identify the metaphors used in the poem and discuss their significance. What are the effects of the metaphors? What associated meanings do you get from such comparisons?(Sample)

    8. What do the last two lines mean and what are their functions?(Sample)

    9. According to the poem, what is the most striking feature of love?(Sample)

    10. Is the love presented in the poem realistic? Why or why not? Please specific literary texts or examples to support your argument. (Sample)