RESOLVED: JOHN DONNE’S POETRY IS DEMEANING TO WOMEN
Is the poetry of John Donne demeaning to women? Several issues must be considered when debating whether John Donne was a male chauvinist. The time period in which he penned his poetry, as well as the point in his life during which certain poems were written, must all be taken into consideration.
It is also very important to keep in mind the roles of women in the seventeenth century and how they were perceived by men at that time. Women during the seventeenth century were not considered to be man’s equal, and were often perceived as merely property or objects. Women did not have the right to speak out, or to be educated. They had to remain loyal and subservient to their fathers and husbands, no matter what the circumstance. How Donne perceived women throughout his lifetime is, therefore, key to determining whether he was degrading women in his poetry.
Donne was an unmarried young man while he was attending university, and it was at that time that he started to write poems relative to his romantic relationships. His age and immaturity toward the opposite sex is quite evident in his first few writings. Donne’s feelings toward women during his earlier years are exemplified in Elegy 19. To His Mistress Going to Bed.
In Elegy 19, Donne’s anticipation and excitement clearly comes through in his words and expressions. One can feel his impatience as he describes how he intends to undress his mistress. His immaturity is also quite apparent. The poem is easier to understand than his later works, and one can’t help but blush and giggle while reading some of the passages.
Donne does not speak about unconditional love, or about two beings becoming one, as in his later works. Rather, it is very sexually explicit, and not very romantic. Donne compares his new lover’s body to “O my America! My new-found-land.” So much for romance!
Donne’s words describe his desire at that time, and reflect the...