Concept of Death: A Comparative Analysis of "Death be not proud" and "Batter my Heart three person'd God" by John Donne

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For a long time, the concept of death has remained metaphysical among the humankind. Questions concerning the causes and impacts of death to human society has never been understood hence unanswerable since they are beyond human understanding. In the poetic world, various authors have tried to criticize and air out their perspectives about death, but that has remained purely in literature. Focusing on the two poems "Death be not proud" and "Batter my heart three person'd God" by John Donne, the author describes the concept of death in two different dimensions depending on time, circumstance and the perception that people hold towards God and death. While both poems acknowledge the existence and reality of death, in" Death be not proud" death is dishonored, subjected to pain and portrayed weaker, whereas in" Batter my heart three person'd God" evil is feared and humankind seeks intervention from God. It is impervious, therefore, to understand the fact that death exists and acknowledge the different dimensions individuals categorize death in the society.

Death be not Proud

In the second line, the author refers to death as "mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so" It signifies the entire perception that the author holds about death. From the illustration, the pain that comes as a result of death is not revealed. The speaker appears to be fearless and more confidence from the conviction of the weaknesses of death. He ridicules death as being mighty and dreadful as per to other people's understanding which he doesn't acknowledge. Also, his words are very daring, capable of confronting death as he believes that it has no power over him an aspect of eternity (Targoff, 2008, p.106). He even compares death to rest and sleep, which are elements that bring happiness and joy to people. It is, therefore, obvious that the speaker does not need any assistance to handle the threats and terrible deeds resulting from death.

In line three, death is shown a sense of insecurity, "as the speaker says, for those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow, Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me." At this point, the speaker applies personification concept giving life to death and therefore becomes mortal. At this point, the speaker gets "an opportunity to inflict pain, torture and finally overpowers death. The speaker, therefore, develops courage assuring death that it can also be subjected to similar oppression and be defeated (Corner & Mark, 2010, p. 262). At this point, the author does not bring any element of Gods intervention into his confrontation with death. The speaker has an inner drive, a conviction that protects him against the troubles that might come with death. Therefore, despite the fact that he acknowledges the existence of death, he still doesn't need the intervention of the creator as he is fearless.

In line 10, he says, "and dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell" In this context, death is regarded as a slave that entirely depends on human beings for survival. Application of personification played a bigger role in reducing the strength of death to that of a person. For this reason, Gods involvement wasn't a requirement as death is reduced to the level of human being. In my view, I tend to agree with the position held, ideally, without people and other living creatures death would not have been existence. For this reason, it entirely depends on human beings for survival.

Batter my Heart Three Persond God

In this poem, the poet's perception of evil contrasts the original as portrayed in the previous narration. In the beginning, John says " Batter my heart; three persond God" This is a special request, a plea to God to deliver him from all the sorts of evil that bedevils him. It is a clear indication that he is weaker in comparison to the evils that he may be facing. Furthermore, at this juncture, the speaker recognizes the fact that evil is likely to result in pain and therefore cannot dishonor it in any way. It is an act of inconsistency based on the position held in the previous poem.

Donne makes use of a simile "like an usurpt town" which is a likely description of his sinful situation and how Satan has intervened in most of his reasoning and decision making. The only way that he can be free from captivity is through the consultation of God; it is his prayer that God batters the gates of captivity so as to set him free. At this point, it is very clear that the speaker is fearful of the impacts that can result from the dwelling of the evil and therefore cannot be able to confront by himself.

In the comparison of the two analysis, in the first case, it is clear that the speaker is more confident, fearless and dishonors death at all costs. To the speaker, he regards death as a weaker being who cannot scare him in any way. Furthermore, the author portrays death as a being that only depends on human beings for survival. At this point, the speaker does not acknowledge the position of God in his life. The fact that he is not troubled in any way and the possibility and confidence that makes him be in a position to inflict pain to Death makes him even far from God. Conversely, in the second poem, the speaker is now weaker in regards to evil. The speaker is fearful and less confident, he furthermore complains of the fact that the devil has influenced most of his decisions and therefore need Gods' intervention so as to batter the gates of evil.

In my own perception, it is the nature if humankind to perceive God as helpful only when they are in need. At the point where all conditions are favorable, they don't acknowledge his position in their lives hence insignificant. Furthermore, people fear death and will always seek Gods intervention whenever evil come in the midst. In practical and has been observed, a greater controversy exists on how people view God and evil.


In conclusion, both the poems acknowledge the existence and reality of death, while in "Death be not proud" the speaker seem confident and fearless and in "Batter my heart, three person'd God" he is humbled and pleads with the creator for intervention. The two poems clearly illustrate the circumstances surrounding the speaker and therefore portraying his behavior and response to both God and death in different occasions. The analysis is essential as it clearly pictures the nature of people in the society and their response to the creator at the different point in time depending on the circumstances they are going through. In addition, it justifies how important God is and why He should always be perceived as greater and mighty at all times.

Works Cited

Corner, Mark. Death Be Not Proud: The Problem of the Afterlife. Oxford: P. Lang, 2010. Print.

Targoff, Ramie. John Donne, Body, and Soul. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008. Internet resource.

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