Death

Topics: Afterlife, Fear, John Donne Pages: 3 (1243 words) Published: February 24, 2014
The event of death implies multiple connotations. While death invokes fear and dread on the surface, in some cases it evokes acceptance and tranquility. Through these old English texts, each author attempts to explore what happens in life after death. Interestingly, each author takes a different side while revealing parallel, underlying theories. Within their sonnets, John Donne and Rochester try to quell the common fear of death. Despite their efforts, it is evident through rhetorical devices and various analogies that death should be feared, as it is a negative occurrence. Rochester and Donne attempt to shed a calming light on the event of death at surface value. However, beneath this facade, it is evident that both texts contain an underlying message that death should be feared for its unfavorable results versus being accepted and embraced. Beneath the external message of reassurance by Donne and Rochester that death is not an event worth fearing, it is evident that death is in fact a powerful occurrence that should be feared. Within Holy Sonnets, Donne suggests that death is not powerful because we are in control of our fate. He makes his point by saying, “For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me” (Donne). To further strengthen this claim that man controls his time of death, Donne personifies death to reassure that it is neither powerful nor to be dreaded. Through this personification, he talks down to Death as if Death is simply a man who is powerless.  He tells Death, “Death, be not proud, though some have callèd thee” (Donne). In addition, he orders, “Death, thou shalt die”. Although this rhetoric displays an effort to show that Death should not be feared, Donne is actually presenting a contradictory assertion. Donne claims that man, himself, controls his own fate, but by giving Death these humanistic, personal qualities, the power to control one’s fate that Donne originally asserted is now...
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