John Donne Essay

Ideas and themes change according to the different times and the historical, social, cultural and personal context of the time they are written In, with the texts either reflecting or contrasting the Ideas of that time. Death and mortality and the spiritual and emotional connections are themes that have evolved over time due to the different contexts. These themes are thematically central to John Donna’s poetry written In the 17th century and Margaret Dose’s 20th century play W;t. During the 1 7th Century, religion, especially Christianity, permeated all aspects of society.

Donna’s Death be not proud and Hymen to God my God, in my Sickness reflect his Christian belief that the material body was a temporary vessel for the soul’s Journey and hence death was not something to be feared. In his Holy Sonnet, Death be not proud, Done patronizes death, and attempts to dispel the fears associated with death, reflecting the influence of his personal and historical contexts on his poetry. Donna’s immediate use of the imperative, ‘Death be not proud, though some have called thee mighty and dreadfully, for, thou art not see’, belittles the existence of death by creating a condescending tone.

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Moreover by personifying death and then directly addressing It, Done demeans death’s power saying that Its nothing but an end result to fate and chance. To further correctly death, Done uses a metaphor to equate death to rest and sleep’, robbing It of Its power. In contrast, Dose’s W;t portrays a society in which the concept of a universal religion no longer exists, instead science was the savior. As a result death is seen as the final and absolute end in a context influenced by the existential fear of mortality and death which was prominent in late 20th century society.

Dose’s main character Viand’s constant attachment to the IV pole symbolizes the modern medical science world. Vivian describes herself as, ‘Just the specimen, Just the dust Jacket, Just the white piece of paper’. The repetition of ‘Just the’ and the objectification of Vivian through those descriptions reflect that life and body are viewed scientifically, as an observable phenomenon, capable of study. Academia and science are hence represented as having Increasing Importance, thus creating an environment where mortality is increasingly feared.

In Hymen to God my God, in my Sickness the Hessians who attend to the speaker, much like the Code Team who attend to Vivian, are concerned with merely the material body. Done uses an extended conceit to compare the dying speaker to a map, suggesting that “west and east in all flat maps are one” highlighting that West’ where the sun sets, is in reality connected to the “Resurrection” in the east, where the sun rises. He questions the reality of death using a rhetorical questions; “what shall my west hurt me? ” showing his clear confidence in life after death.

In a similar manner, the concluding scenes off;t epic a resemblance to the notion put forward by Done, where theatrically ‘a frenzy takes over’ as the Code Team attempt to resuscitate Vivian, perceiving the survival of her physical body as the most important task. This flurried obsession with her material body Is Juxtaposed with Viand’s ‘slow and graceful’ walk towards ‘a little light’ showing her acceptance that death is “nothing but a breath – a comma – separates the shedding of her material fears, Vivian embodies Donna’s interpretation of death in this is my plays last scene when he walks away from his soul, leaving his sins Enid.

The 17th Century Renaissance era placed greater importance on the human need for spiritual and emotional connections than the late 20th Century did. This notion is supported in Donna’s A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning in which emotional connections are all encompassing and contain a spiritual element. Here the speaker puts forward the idea that their love is beyond the scientifically rational and can withstand physical separation through the use of scientific imagery such as, trepidation of the spheres… Is innocent’.

Furthermore Done uses a metaphysical enceinte by portraying the idealized love between the two as a compass, with the lovers representing the two end points. The speaker’s faith in the spiritual connection between the lovers is revealed as he believes that their emotional connection cannot be weakened by the metaphoric separation of the endpoint of the compass, When the other far doth Rome, It leans, and hearkens after it’. Alternatively, W;t portrays a society, whose individuals through scholarship and intellect, can become increasingly isolated and as a result lack emotional and spiritual connections.

The medical professionals, Jason and Kelvin, repeatedly voice empty platitudes such as ‘how are you feeling today? In a procedure known as a clinical. The clinical, which is supposed to establish a connection between doctor and patient, has essentially become a meaningless ritual, representing the lack of concern for emotional and spiritual connection in the late 20th century. Thus, through John Donna’s poetry, written in the 17th Century and Margaret Dose’s 20th Century play W;t, we are able to see how texts written in different time and context can either reflect or contrast the ideas of that time.

John Donne

John Donne, a metaphysical poet, wrote about his perception on love in quite a few of his poems. Within these poems, he adopted a range of attitudes toward love: negative, positive or as if someone in love, and a more playful perception of it. Throughout a few of his poems, he used conceits–an extended metaphor between two unusual or unlike things–to portray these thoughts. His use of conceits helped illustrate his attitude toward love in a more elaborate way, rather than a straight forward assertion. The use of conceits allows for the reader to discuss deeper meaning which in turn helps them understand metaphysical poetry. In both The Bait, The Flea, and a Valediction: Forbidding Mourning, Donne uses conceits to establish his tone and illustrate his differentiating views on love. The Bait, one of Donne’s metaphysical works, illustrates love by comparing it to fish and the process by which they are caught. This elaborate metaphor is an example of a conceit, as it is portrayed throughout the entirety of the poem and helps establish his attitude and theme. By comparing women to bait, Donne illustrates a cynical tone throughout the poem, allowing us to understand his negative assertion towards love. This metaphor of women to bait helps develop his theme that women deceive and catch men, while portraying men as vulnerable little creatures. The conceit as well helps establish his idea that he wishes to get free for the one fish that does not need any elaborate traps for the men. By using a conceit, Donne’s message comes to life. As readers, we can visualize poor fish getting caught, developing sympathy for them. In doing this, Donne has us feel what he says the men feel so we can understand regardless of our gender. In addition, by using a conceit the poem keeps the reader entertained by making a subject matter that remains hard to visualize become more entertaining and vivid. Similarly in The Flea, Donne uses another metaphysical conceit to establish his view on love. Donne compares love to a flea in this poem, in attempts to get a woman to sleep with him. By comparing their love to a flea, Donne adds a witty tone to the poem. This allows us to see another side of his works, one that expresses a more playful and joking tone towards the idea of love. When comparing two things that one would not normally think of as similar–marriage and a flea–Donne gives his poem both simple and complex meaning. We see his playful side while questioning the severity of love, as the speaker tries to persuade the woman that sex is not as sacred as people make it out to appear, and that they don’t need to obtain marriage to participate. The use of the conceit allows us to see a differentiating view than from Donne’s other poems, giving us a better understanding of the many views and assertions different people may have about love. In Donne’s A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning Donne uses a conceit to compare him and his lover’s connection to points on a compass. This conceit helps us visualize how they’re always connected and will end up back together eventually. By using this conceit, Donne’s interpretation of his love comes to life. Comparing it to a physical object helps us understand the deeper meaning of how strong the connection of love is by imagining it ourselves. It helps develop his theme that real love cannot break. This conceit as well shows another contrasting view on love than his other poems do, again helping us understand the contrasting views people may partake on love. Without the use of this conceit, it becomes hard to understand how strong his feelings are for his lover–and thus the message becomes less perceived. John Donne uses metaphysical conceits in multiple of his poems in order to establish various views on love, portraying different attitudes and themes. The use of his conceits allows the reader to visualize his message, understanding the depth of his poetry. In addition, the use of conceits gives his poems both complex and simple meaning, allowing the reader to ponder the contradictory feelings displayed and derive their own feelings toward love from his messages. In The Flea, The Bait, and A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning Donne uses conceits in order to portray his various thoughts on love, allowing the reader to establish their own beliefs on it.


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