The Misfortune of Silence Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Essay by brimammaCollege, UndergraduateB+, November 2014

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The Misfortune of Silence

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

To make something as vast and all-encompassing as the image of Death is authors have generally chosen to personify it as if it was a person or an entity that we could speak with. One of the best examples of this in English literature is John Donne's Holy Sonnet X, or Death be not proud. Another good example of deaths personification lies in German literature, with the Brothers Grimm's Godfather Death. Both of these works use personification as an attempt to make dealing with the idea of death more concrete. The difference in these two works comes in the way in which death is portrayed, in Holy Sonnet X death is mocked and made impotent, whereas in Godfather Death, death is portrayed as a great equalizer of men and force to be feared.

John Donne wrote Holy Sonnet X after a bout with a fever that almost took his life.

He uses a literary device known as an apostrophe, which is when an author personifies something in order to be able to communicate with it like it was human. This is considered one of the best examples of this in English literature. But the uniqueness of this device is not necessarily in its personification, but in how it uses that in order to demean and make death impotent. This is a stark change of the way death was viewed at the time. This sonnet was written around 1610. That is around the time the Plague had ravaged most of Europe, and there was no modern medicine or sterilization. To people in this time death was not just inevitable but something that was literally just waiting right around the corner and was a part of daily life. The uncertainty...