Study Guide

Sonnet 116 Setting

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Well, we can’t put our finger on a real "setting" for this poem for an obvious reason: there isn’t one. There are no events that take place, and no actual places referenced at all. However, the poem does create a specific imaginary space, through its key use of nautical imagery. The poet creates a vivid scene in the minds of his readers by conjuring up the mental picture of a storm-tossed sea, a lost ship, and, above it all, the calm, unchanging, and dependable polestar. This dramatic scene provides a kind of visual metaphor for the poem’s interpretation of love as a guiding light above a troubled world.

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