death,be not proud

By Shane Freeman,2014-05-04 19:37
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death,be not proud

    A Study of Death, Be Not Proud

     John Donnes poem Death, Be Not Proud deals with the subject of death,

    commonly used in various literary works.The speaker expresses his view that death is

    not something to be feared, as it ofen is, and has been, since the beginning of time.He

    then goes on to explain the basis for his argument. He points out the weaknesses of

    death and,with a triumphant and confident tone, declares his victory over it by means

    of hhis lack of respect and fear for its implications.

    In this poem,Donne uses a variety of poetic elements. These elements function

    in enhancing the works unconventional theme of mans superiority ovr death. Throughout the poem, there is a strong use of assonance,the repeition of vowel sounds

    within a phrase. The sound of the words helps in structuring Donnes writing. Nearly every line contains a repetition of o sounds.In the following line,an example of

    this device is clear: “Die not poor Death,nor yet canst thou kill me.The frequent use of assonance does not directly enchance the poems theme,yet it does help convey its

    message more vividly by making the lines flow, thus allowing the reader to

    understand each stanza more easily. Since each individual line and its associated

    thought are easy to understand , the central idea of the entire poem is easy to

    understand too. John Donne effectively uses tone to enchance the poems theme. The work has a tone of triumphant confidence and defiance in the face of death. Donne

    boldly denounces death, making it clear that he is not controlled by the fear of it ad

    others often are.Although many may believe death to be mighty and dreadful,he feels

    this is not so.It is nothing to fear in this situation.All of these examples of Donnesuse

of tone greatly enchance the poems theme that man is superior to death. Deaths

    intimidation is diminished as he points out its weaknesses one by one and bravely

    faces it head on. Prsonification is the giving of human characteristics to something

    inanimate, animal or abstract. Similarly, apostrophe addresses something intangible or

    someone not commonly spoken to.Donne ponifies death in his poem, capitalizing the

    word and giving it the human trait of pride. By telling death not to be proud, he

    implies that death does not in fact have the ability to feel pride, giving it a human


    Finally, another very important poetic device in this poem is figureative

    language,in the form of personification and apostrophe. His desire to prove his

    freedom from the mprisonment of fear is visible in the angry ang arrogant monologue

    he presents to death in his poem. Donnes feelings are better expressed in a situation

    which people can relate to a confrontation in which party adresses another. The

    superiority theme is enchanced ad a result of this man-versus-man conflict depiction.


    1. Jonh,Donne.Death, Be not proud.. 2. A Course book of English literature.Wuhan,Wuhan University Press,2004.

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