What is love? Mr. Shakespeare tries his best to tackle this topic in Sonnet 116. Stating that true love is not merely a physical attractiveness, because how one looks is something that goes away in time. Love is everlasting, that it “bears it out even to the edge of doom.” (Sonnet 116 Lit Book) One can see that Shakespeare has sturdy roots in what he defines as “love”, but do his confident beliefs in what love is correspond to the love shown in his play Othello? The love in Othello seems so superficial, but maybe there is more to it than what one sees while reading it.
In Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116, he shares with the reader what his beliefs in love are. Shakespeare starts by saying “Let me not to the marriage of true minds/ Admit impediments.” What he means by this is that there should be nothing that stops two true minded people from being together. No matter the obstacle, challenges, or weaknesses, true love can conquer all ailments. He continues to say the true love cannot be altered with the withering of looks or physique, by saying “Love is not love/ Which alters when it alteration finds.”
Love does not change, ever! Even when a loved one is disloyal, one cannot stray away from the bounds of that marriage, it is everlasting, “It is a lighthouse/ That looks on tempests and is never shaken.” He goes on to say that loves worth cannot be calculated, but the height of ones love can be felt.
“Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks/ Within his bending sickle’s compass come”, Shakespeare goes deeper than usual with this line, he says that love is eternal, and cannot be influenced by time and space, but physical beauty is at the mercy of time, and death. Referring the sickle to the scythe of Death, and when death comes, one’s beauty will be forgotten, but the love you shared, will be remembered forever.
Shakespeare defines love something that lasts until the end of one’s days, not something that will change over time. Shakespeare is so confident in his definition of love he ends the poem saying that if I am wrong I take back everything I have ever written, and no man has ever been in love.
So does the love portrayed in Sonnet 116 compare to the love shown in Othello? In Othello Othello is in “love” with and married to Desdemona, but the jealousy placed in him by Iago overtakes him and kills her because he thought she was having an affair with Cassio. So obviously killing the he “loves” over a rumored affair, does not shine too kindly on the true affections of Othello towards Desdemona.
Shakespeare said in Sonnet 116 that true love will stand through the thick and thin, it will surpass doubts and give you the power to forgive and forget all wrongs your loved one has done. Perhaps it was Othellos quick temper that caused him to act so rashly killing his wife, or maybe it was the constant reminder of Iago of how he could rid these problems by just getting rid of them.
Iago played a huge role in the death of Desdemona, he is the whole reason that all of this came to happen. Iago plays the role jealousy in Othello one can see this from the very beginning. Very early into the story Iago’s jealousy of not getting selected for a promotion enrages him and causes him to hate Othello.
Courtney from Study Moose
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