John Donne Questions and Answers

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How would you summarize John Donne's "Satire 3"?

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Donne's "Satire 3" is a characteristically learned and witty meditation on the subject of religion. Religious matters were hugely important in Donne's day, and the question of which religion to follow was considered essential both to one's earthly wellbeing as well as to the ultimate destiny of the soul.

The question was of especial relevance to Donne as he changed his own religion from the Catholicism of his birth to Anglicanism, where he rose through the ranks of ecclesiastical preferment, eventually becoming dean of St. Paul's Cathedral.

The poem begins in anguish; Donne doesn't know whether to laugh or cry as his soul is wracked with sin, tormented by the prospect of eternal damnation. Complaining about it will do no good at all. The only cure for sin is a devotion to the religious life:

Is not our mistress, fair Religion, 
As worthy of all our souls' devotion 
As virtue was in the first blinded age?
By "the blinded age" Donne is referring to pagan antiquity. Although that period of...

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