Death Be Not Proud

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In John Donne’s sonnet “Death, Be Not Proud” the speaker illustrates the mortality of death and addresses the fear people associate death with. Throughout history death has been an effective method of control, ultimately causing fear among men. Donne uses figurative language, statements of why death should not be proud, and religious beliefs to relinquish this fear. Donne uses many forms of figurative language throughout this sonnet. The beginning of the sonnet states, “Death, be not proud, though some have called thee” (line 1) Death is apostrophized, being directly spoken to as if this entity were a person. The speaker uses “thee” (line 1), “thou” (line 9), and “thy” (line 12), giving the appearance of a dialogue between two people. In giving death characteristics of being mortal it diminishes the effect of fear that death is associated with. Donne then goes on to personify death, giving the entity human characteristics, “Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so” (line 2) and “Thou’rt slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men” (line 9), these characteristics make death appear defenseless and less fearsome. Throughout the poem metaphors are also present, he frequently compares sleep to death, “From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be, / Much pleasure, then from thee much more must flow” (lines 5-6). The metaphor suggests that since we derive pleasure from sleep, death should be more pleasurable. Also by referring to the “pictures” (line 5) of death, it is implied that sleep is just a short resemblance of death, making death seem effortless and comprehensible, removing the fear of the unknown. Throughout the poem, Donne portrays reasons why death should not be proud, and why we should not fear death. The beginning of the poem addresses inadequacy, by attacking death’s pride, “Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so; / For those, whom thou think’st
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