English 12 Honors
April 4, 2005
An Analysis of John Donne's "Death, Be Not Proud"
In John Donne's poem "Death, Be Not Proud," the speaker directly attacks Death. The speaker does not fear Death because of his strong faith in God. Once being an Anglican Minister, Donne, brings his readers to the conclusion, Death is not to be feared. Donne uses his "characteristic metaphysical wit" in the poetic devices he chooses. By using different poetic devices, Donne, reveals that Death is not in control (Ardolino 953). The speaker portrays Death as not being powerful enough to make a person's existence die.
"Death, Be Not Proud," is a poem that expresses why Death should not be feared. The speaker talks as if Death is a person and can be stopped. He accuses Death as not being "Mighty and dreadful" because Death is incapable of having a person's existence die (l. 2). The poem's title, "Death , Be Not Proud," represents that Death should not be proud because it does not have the power that it thinks it does (Woolway 1). Through the speaker saying, "Thou'rt slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men," it represents that Death is not in full control over a person's death (l. 9). Man is able to control his life through events, such as, drugs or suicide (Woolway 1-2). Throughout the poem Death is being compared to sleep, "Rest of their bones and souls' delivery" (l. 8). The speaker feels that when you awaken from sleep you have gained energy but when you awaken from death it is a "greater release and pleasure" (Ardolino 953).
The speaker's tone is a direct attack on Death. Donne changes the tone throughout the poem. The speaker first directly attacks Death, "Death, be not proud," secondly, the speaker
talks as if he feels sorry for Death, "Die not, poor Death," and finally the speaker reveals that Death is not powerful, "Thou'rt slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men" (Death, Be Not Proud 102-103). The most...