John Donne and Wit

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John Donne and Wit

By | March 2013
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Due to different circumstances such as time period or occupation, many people have different approaches towards death. The first poem I will talk about is ‘death be not proud’ and express its implicit connection to w;t. The context of Donne’s time shows that from a renaissance perspective, “one short sleepe” is a metaphor for death. Due to the religious worldview of the time, death was not seen as something to seen as “mighty and dreadful”, but yet, as a rewarding heavenly experience. By falling on sola gratia (grace alone) you would acquire god’s mercy and receive eternal life “one short sleepe past, we wake eternally”. Now, the first connection is made at the start of the climax. As Prof. Ashford reads to Vivian, my stages directions note “Vivian is fast fast asleep” Prof. Ashford leaves by saying “its time to go… angels sing thee to thy rest”. Between this, and when Jason walks in, Vivian has died through “one short sleepe”. Now, due to the context of our time, a religious worldview isn’t everyone’s, in fact Vivian has expressed an intellectualist worldview throughout. Her truth comes from knowledge, not the bible; thus, she has a non-spiritual outlook on life. However due to the structure of the play, which I will discuss later, Vivian has fallen on grace through Susie and is subjected to what seems eternal life, but in which, it could be seen as many different things as she is non-spiritual, a higher sense of self perhaps? “Vivian steps out of bed. She walks away from the scene towards a little light”. Through the conceit of death being sleep, you can see how I have reshaped the idea of death be not proud into the structure of my play and expressed the values of Vivian effectively.

Throughout the play I also express other’s view towards death. I will now talk about w;t in relation to the poem ‘hymn to god my god, in my sicknesse’. This poem is said to be written while Donne was on his deathbed. Most of the play discusses the metaphor for the way in...