Dicuss two different readings of John Donne's literature.

Essay by imteazHigh School, 12th gradeB+, October 2004

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John Donne is recognised as the most prolific metaphysical poet in history. In the post-modern context, his poetry has been both criticised and appreciated. This paper will discuss two of Donne's most recognised love poems, "the Sunne Rising" and "A Valediction forbidding mourning" in light of a feminist critical reading and contrast it with my own appreciative reading.

The modern feminist movement started in the late 1960's, and mainly involved middle class female academics fighting against gender inequality. Post WWII, many women were working the same jobs as men, yet not only were they being paid less, they did not receive the same recognition for their work (the "glass ceiling"). This led to the feminist psyche to criticise everything that they felt was contravening gender equality.

A feminist critique of "the Sunne Rising," sees it as a self-consciously clever apostrophe between the persona and the sun, and not a great deal more.

"Busie old foole, unruly Sunne, why dost thou thus?" is seen as the persona's egotistical contest with the sun, and not to the persona's love for his mistress. The one sided dialogue is seen as a suppression on the mistress for she does not have a say in their love.

The person's superiority is based on the claim that the love existing between himself and his mistress is so strong that it is eternal and therefore not subject to the "rags of time". Here, the persona can only use his wit to sustain his position in his duel with the sun, and this is evidenced by, "I could eclipse and cloud them (the sun's beam) with a winke/but that I would not lose her sight so long". Whilst there is an expression of affection between the persona and the lover, the persona actually claims a victory...