LOVE, NATURE AND TIME IN SHAKESPEARE’S SONNETS 18 AND 116
A group of 126 first Shakespearean sonnets, traditionally classified as a dedication to a male friend, have been raising a prolific and controversial literary polemics, which is predominantly centered on the issue of the author’s questionable heterosexuality. However, above this exclusive aspect, Shakespeare’s poetry on love, masterly performed in the genre of the English love sonnet, reveals a variety of cultural and aesthetical backgrounds of the European Renaissance. Thus, from the perspective of postmodern critical interpretation, these texts can be read as particular contexts as well as contexts can be understood as cognitive patterns for poetical texts on love, values and relationship. In particular, from such a perspective, writer’s sonnets evidence a specific ethics of love as reflected in the mirror of art and nature. Indeed, these three elements – nature, love art seem to be inseparable in the Shakespearean sonnets of the first thematic group, and their genuine combination contributes to a specific type of poetic imagination. Admittedly, these components of Shakespeare’s poems pattern a special picture of the world, a particular worldview, typical of Renaissance, which has to be decoded with the help of literary criticism.
Further is represented an attempt to investigate ethics of love through these elements in two sonnets – 18 and 116 – without regard to a traditional erotic attribution, but rather against the background of the Shakespearean epoch. In the Sonnet 116 we can see a particular representation of love, which is understood through trials endeavored by lovers. Attentive to different aspects of love, Shakespeare argues that true love is a far more durable feeling than passion. Indeed, passion fades away with time, whereas love is born in trials: “O no; it is an ever-fixed mark, That looks on tempests and is never shaken” (Shakespeare, Sonnet 116).The language and the metaphors used throughout the narration reveal that first natural image – a tempest, traditionally associated with emotional storm. Further Shakespeare compares love to an “ever-fixed mark”. This means that the author tends to understand love as a specific celebration of stability, validness, and duration. Indeed, such a mark “looks on tempests and is never shaken” (Shakespeare, Sonnet 116). This comparison is suggestive of a lighthouse especially that further the word ‘compass’ is used. Indeed, a lighthouse is a mark that serves as orientation to navigators and humans. In this case, life can be compared to a sea. Admittedly, a wandering bark is a metaphorical expression of a man, who is trying to find orientation marks in one’s tremendous life. Peter M. Daly argues that symbols in Shakespearean poetry are patterned with emblematic art of the Renaissance, in which a particular word conveys a special discourse (Daly 515-516).
Likewise, according to the researcher, the word ‘compass’, implied by Shakespeare, except a geometer’s compass, also reveals the magnetic compass. According to the author, “it has the additional significance of being related to high, unchanging points of reference” (Daly 515). In particular, Daly explains: “My suggestion …