In "Death, be not proud," how do paradox and personification signify a victory over death?no!

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

In my opinion, the author uses both paradox and personification to emphasize the idea that, in the end, it is life that will triumph over death.

The idea that death can die is a paradox.  By saying that this is possible, the author is making us think in a different way about our assumptions.  By making us think about this, he makes it easier for us to accept his premise.

By personifying death, the author helps with his paradox.  If death is human, then death must surely die.

So, the author is asking us to think about the idea that death can (through God) be "killed."  He uses personification and paradox to make us consider this possibility.

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epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

Since Donne devoutly believed in the expectation of the Christian Resurrection, his poem personifies death as an adversary swollen with false pride and unworthy of being called "mighty and dreadful."  This poem is one of his "Holy Sonnets," in which Donne sees Death as mere adversary and God as vanquisher. In "Death be not proud" the poet accuses death of being little more than a slave bossed around by "fate, chance, kings and desperate men"—a craven thing that keeps bad company, such as "poison, war, and sickness." Finally Donne taunts death with a paradox: "death, thou shalt die."

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