Much Ado About Nothing

The marriage of true minds

Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets which explored love in its many forms. Bell Shakespeare's 2019 production of Much Ado About Nothing featured one of Shakespeare’s sonnets put to music and sung by the cast.

Read the sonnet below:

Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov'd,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.

Read the sonnet then answer the following questions:

  • What do you think the message of this sonnet is? What is Shakespeare saying about the nature of love?
  • How does the message of the sonnet relate to the characters and story of Much Ado About Nothing? Why do you think the director chose this sonnet to include in the show?
  • What techniques are used to describe love? What is the effect of describing love in this way?

Extension task

Imagine that after the play has ended, Beatrice and Benedick write a sonnet about what they have learnt about love. Choose either Beatrice or Benedick and write the sonnet from their perspective. Try to keep to these basic rules of sonnet writing:

  • Every sonnet has 14 lines
  • The first quatrain (lines 1-4) presents an idea or argument
  • The second and third quatrain (lines 5-12) further explores that idea or argument
  • The final couplet (lines 13-14) resolves the argument
  • For an added challenge, give your sonnet the rhyming scheme Shakespeare used (abab, cdcd, efef, gg)

Share your sonnets with your class through performance or compile them into a book about lessons on love!

Related resources