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The Personification And Criticism Of Death In John Donne's "Death Be Not Proud."

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Poetry & Poets

The Personification And Criticism Of Death In John Donne's
The Personification And Criticism Of Death In John Donne's
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The Personification and Criticism of Death in John Donne's "Death Be Not
"No poem of John Donne's is more widely read or more directly
associated with Donne than the tenth of the Holy Sonnets, 'Death, be not
proud.'" (Dr. Gerald McDaniel, lecture). In this sonnet, Donne personifies
death in two ways, as rescuer and as punisher of even the most noble.
Using these personifications, Donne turns the sting of death against death
Donne's personification of death begins in line two where he says
that some people have called death "Mighty and dreadful"(l 2). The quality
of being powerful and the ability to cause great fear, basic definitions
taken from Random House's 1962 The American College Dictionary, are
undeniably human traits and Donne uses these traits to portray death as a
formidable foe. "With an impudence that is characteristically Donne's, he
deflates Death in the opening salvo. He discounts the power of death as a
mere fiction" (Dr. Gerald McDaniel, lecture).
Now that the image of his foe, death, has been created, Donne
denounces the power and fear associated with death, "for thou art not so. /
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow/ Die not, poor Death, nor
yet canst thou kill me" (ll 2-4), Donne defies death's power. He is so bold
as to mock death, calling it "poor death" (l 4), giving death the sense and
personification of being deficient in that it cannot kill Donne.
In the second quatrain, Donne continues his critique of death. He
questions death that ...

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