John Donne's Holy Sonnets Questions and Answers
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What literary devices are used in "Death, be not proud" by John Donne?

In his poem titled “Death, be not proud,” John Donne uses literary devices such as apostrophe, personification, rhyme scheme, anaphora, and paradox. He uses these devices to diminish Death’s power, so people will not fear Death as much as they do.

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The entire poem is an example of apostrophe. The entire poem is addressed to Death. At the beginning the speaker states, “Death, be not proud” and at the end, “Death, though shalt die.” By framing the poem with these examples of apostrophe, Donne demonstrates that Death is not as immortal or inhuman as people perceive it to be. Instead, Death is subject to forces outside of itself, just like humans.

If the poem is an example of apostrophe, naturally, there is also personification. The speaker personifies Death, even telling it to not be “proud,” “mighty,” or “dreadful,” even though people perceive Death this way. Donne personifies Death to humanize it. When Death is humanized, it loses some of the power that people naturally ascribe to it.

Toward the end of the poem, Donne utilizes anaphora . He begins several consecutive lines with “And.” Through these lines, he is building the pacing by amassing what Death is a “slave” to. Through this, Death is belittled, its...

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