Study Guide

Sonnet 116 Loyalty

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As far as Sonnet 116 is concerned, loyalty plays a key role in true love – actually, the only significant role. The poem asserts that the true marker of love is its persistence; without constant devotion, "love is not love." A lot of difficulties can arise when two people who love each other, but if their feelings are real, none of these things should matter. In the ideal world of the poem, true lovers always forgive each other and stay together, regardless of the circumstances.

Questions About Loyalty

  1. The poem alludes to a specific kind of "marriage" in the first line – how might we differentiate this from the legal idea of marriage?
  2. The poem claims that love that changes when people change isn’t actually love at all. Do you agree or disagree with this idea?
  3. What kinds of "tempests" might the poet be referring to in terms of human relationships?
  4. Can love persist even if one of the parties involved is not loyal? Do you think that true love, as the poem claims, is actually both reciprocal and eternal?

Chew on This

Sonnet 116 suggests that true lovers remain loyal, despite any "tempests" that may strike their relationship. This includes even, paradoxically, infidelity.

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