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Furthermore, Death is a bully, “mighty and dreadful,” going around scaring people, and the speaker is not one of those scared people.Another illustration of the instability of this sonnet appears when the speaker compares Death to sleep.Personifying death, instead of discussing the basic biological function of how it is the end of the journey, shows the internal struggle to accept that all things that live must, at some point, die.
The speaker is voicing his opinion of Death like he is one who does not fear it at all, yet he truly sounds as though his ranting is an attempt to convince himself that he is not afraid.
One can deconstruct this approach to reflect that Donne is the one speaking to Death and trying to convince himself that he is not afraid of dying.
Nance explains, “Deconstruction is interested in the idea that meaning breaks apart; if you look too closely at any text it no longer holds meaning, it falls apart.” Through this method of criticism, a reader can deconstruct the poem and analyze how Donne’s meaning cannot hold.
Furthermore, a more psychological battle becomes apparent when reading “Death Be Not Proud,” as the speaker is trying to convince himself that he will reach eternal life and escape Death.
The narrator is not talking about death or dying, but talking to a conscious self.
The speaker goes on to admonish Death to not be full of pride or arrogance as he walks around the realm of mortal man, even though humans might treat this entity like one who deserves reverence, “mighty and dreadful” (2). The speaker almost comes off as one who is standing there talking to the air, no one truly listening.For starters, sleep is something that one will eventually wake up from, whereas death is not.How can the pleasures of sleeping be similar to the pain of dying?Perhaps this preoccupation with death is why literature has manifested so many pieces about the subject.John Donne is among the authors who have developed such a fascination, some suggest an obsession, with death.Greenblatt suggests that Donne’s writings demand that readers use an exceptional degree of mental attention and participation, whether they are his sonnets or his sermons.An analysis of “Death Be Not Proud” illustrates the instability of Donne’s poem by revealing a narrator who speaks to Death as an entity of consciousness: “Death, be not proud, though some have called thee” (1).The speaker asserts that sleep and rest are lighter images of death; Death is the real deal, instead of just the portraits that rest and sleep are.If the most pleasure one can endure is that of Death, sleep and rest are just glimpses of the magnitude of pleasure that Death can bring.Fomeshi states “his preoccupation with the instability of life and the ruthless perpetuity of death makes him a death-poet” (77).Donne suffered many personal tragedies in his life and appears to channel his distaste for death all through this poem.