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How Does Shakespeare Use Syntax In Let Me Not To The Marriage Of True Minds

For centuries, mankind has searched for something constant, often without success. Even though people keep looking, this search was satisfied when William Shakespeare wrote a poem titled, “Let me not to the marriage of true minds”. In this poem, the speaker defends the position that love is constant, and asserts people should not interfere with love. He skillfully uses reverse syntax to repeat and contrast words, and implements metaphors to expand on the meaning of love. In this poem, he also utilizes personification to explain several profound qualities of love in only a few lines.

As is true with many other of his poems, Shakespeare effectively communicates his message in a beautiful, descriptive way. In “Let me not to the marriage of true minds,” Shakespeare uses reverse syntax, metaphors, and personification to create images and sounds that work together to convince the audience that no one should ever hinder true love. To understand this message fully, it is critical to grasp the content and context of this poem. It is a type of poem called a sonnet, which means that it has “fourteen lines arranged in three quatrains and a concluding couplet” (Murphy).

This was a common form of poetry for Shakespeare to write in, in fact, he composed “Sonnet 116” in 1609 as part of a work called Shakespeare’s Sonnets (Murphy). Reverse sentence structure is the most striking literary device that Shakespeare uses. This device inverts the normal order of words in a sentence, bringing certain words close together, giving them emphasis, and expanding the message of the line. Despite it being difficult to read, this technique is very effective in communicating the idea of the line.

For instance, the phrase, “[l]ove is not love / which alters when it alteration finds…” is much more impactful than the proper version of the sentence: “Love that alters when it finds alteration is not love” (2-3). This is because the repetition of the words “love” and “alter” is very important, as these things are key concepts in the poem. Shakespeare uses this device to add meaning, but he also employs it to design the sound and tempo of the lines, making the audience read the lines in a rhythmic manner. The rhythm of the words draws attention to the action in each verse, making it the focal point of each line.

Thus, each verse contains a vivid, amplified meaning. This is all strongly brought about because of Shakespeare’s remarkable use of reverse sentence structure. Metaphors are by far the most vivid literary devices that Shakespeare uses in “Let me not to the marriage of true minds”. The imagery created by these metaphors allows readers to grasp complex qualities of love and time. For instance, the phrase, “…looks on tempests and is never shaken…” suggests to the audience that love is solid, unmoving, and fearless (6).

Furthermore, the speaker compared love to a star seen from a boat at sea, suggesting that it is an invaluable constant that people look to for direction. Shakespeare chose to use metaphors because they draw from common knowledge, yet still create profound insights. An excellent example of this is a quality of time, called a “bending sickle’s compass” by the speaker (10). The image that this metaphor suggests is one of a deadly clock hand, sweeping around its hub forever, always sharp to damage youth. Clearly, Shakespeare implemented these literary devices to great effect, because they push forward the speaker’s message about love.

The last literary device that Shakespeare uses is the deliberate personification of love and time, personification being the addition of human traits to an object or idea. In the first half of the poem, the speaker talks of love using the terms “it” and “that,” referencing an object without feelings or actions: “…it is an ever-fixed mark / [t]hat looks on tempests…” (3-7). In contrast, the speaker describes both love and time with the pronoun “his,” and writes about them like they are people interacting with each other (8-11). This is significant because it unlocks a deeper level of meaning in the respective verses.

For instance, the phrase, “[l]ove’s not Time’s fool” gives the insight that time will never overcome or outwit love (9). Language like this creates a mental picture of two siblings who are trying to deceive and get the better of each other. This is a scenario that every audience will understand, thus, Shakespeare has used personification successfully, and conveys clear qualities of love through this device. In this poem, each literary device is effective on its own, but produces an even better effect when combined and strategically ordered with the others.

Shakespeare builds up the impact of the devices by consecutively combining them, essentially stacking them as the poem progresses. This is effective because each successive line has a deeper meaning than the one before it. For instance, the base device is reverse syntax, as it permeates the entire sonnet. After it, metaphorsbegin in line 6, while personification occurs during lines 8-11. This structure creates a build-up and climax in the poem, drawing attention to the last lines: “[i]f this be error and upon me prov’d, / I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d” (13-14).

Thus, Shakespeare effectively combined and arranged the literary devices to direct emphasis where he wanted it. The author’s implementation of each device is very successful, because they all clearly communicate a part of the speaker’s message. For instance, reverse syntax unmistakably brings words together and makes them into pairs. A few examples are, “[a]dmit impediments,” “Love is not love…,” and “…remover to remove”. The obvious joining of these words effectively draws attention to them, and signals the reader to pay special interest to those lines.

The metaphors in this poem all contain objects that the audience should know about, and subsequently understand the figurative implications of each line. The phrase, “…the star to every wand’ring bark,” immediately connotes sailors finding their bearings and course by measuring the heavens. This connotation, when applied to love, clearly communicates that is guiding. Finally, personification is effective because it allows the audience to imagine love and time acting like people, having actions and intentions. All of these literary devices work well to convey the speaker’s message, and allow the readers to delve into the poem.

In conclusion, Shakespeare employs reverse syntax, metaphors, and personification to make the audience understand that love is too precious to alter or damage. Despite this poem’s broad theme of love, audiences will be able to look deeper into it and find the speaker’s specific message: that it is truly special, and people should protect it. While many scholars have written interpretations of this poem, this one is unique, because it illuminates a specific message in the poem. People are responsible for the guarding of the love in their life, and should not take for granted the loved ones all around them.

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