An Analysis of Death Be Not Proud by John Donne

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Death? Oh, that Little Thing
The poem “Death be not Proud” starts off by saying “ Death be not proud though some have called thee, mighty and dreadful for thou art not so.” John Donne argues that people have a false perception of death. Death can only be powerful if someone lets it by fearing death and letting it control their lives. Furthermore, the sonnet proclaims death is nothing more than a bridge that will collapse after we pass, in the sense that death dies and leads to an eternal life. The speaker of the poem gives the impression of a confident, religious, middle-aged, fearless, outgoing man who refuses to allow death to affect his life. He speaks with a tone of voice that is rather proud and uplifting. He uses a metaphor of death being sleep by stating “From rest and sleep but thy pictures be, much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow, and soonest our best men with thee do go.” Death is pretty much the same as sleep. Sleep causes us much pleasure so since death is longer it should bring a lot more delight than sleep. Through personification, the poet helps us imagine death as something more than an abstract idea. “Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men.” Death can’t really be slave to anything but we can perceive it as the disgraceful, low-ranking worker of earthly matters. Lastly, in the couplet, the poet creates his ending argument of death being nothing at all. “One short sleep past we wake eternally, and death shall be no more death thou shalt die.” The ending tells the audience that once we die, before we even know it we will be in paradise. We also will not ever have to worry about death again because it shall die, meaning it’s impossible to die twice.
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