Shakespeare and John Donne

Shakespeare and John Donne

  • Submitted By: jessecb
  • Date Submitted: 01/07/2009 7:57 AM
  • Category: English
  • Words: 997
  • Page: 4
  • Views: 1127

Sonnet Comparison and Contrast

William Shakespeare is oft cited as the most influential and proficient writer ever. He was responsible for an extremely large and impressive body of work; he was a prolific playwright. John Donne, eminent in his own right, is most often associated with the creation and perfection of the metaphysical sonnet, a form born out of theological and political unrest, and an obsession with astronomy and astrology - seemingly as an escape from earthly turmoil and a need for order. The contact point of these two artists is the progressiveness of their poetry.

By contrasting and comparing these two artists, we, the reader, the critic, the eternal audience of their greatness, come to a better understanding - not singularly of their works alone, but of the relationships of art across time and space which create a well-sewn fabric. When held up to the light, this material illuminates our very souls and reveals to us aspects of the human condition.

Shakespeare’s Sonnet "CXVI" and John Donne’s "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning" are two fine examples that echo common motifs and similarities. There are many areas one should investigate, like themes, point of view and literary devices such as imagery, metaphor and rhythm, to effectively examine these works.

Firstly, the theme of love serves as the main subject matter for both pieces. Sonnet "CXVI" describes love as an "ever-fixed" mark which does not ‘alter with alteration’ and "looks on tempests and is never shaken". Essentially, love cannot be malformed by natural phenomenon, human strife, or even time. It does not alter with brief hours or weeks but "bears it out even to the edge of doom". John Donne shares similar conviction in "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning". Donne describes a scene of two lovers, one leaving the other, in which the departure is not "a breach, but an expansion." The narrator implies that, although he must take leave, the love will not be compromised, as...

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