John Donne's Holy Sonnets by John Donne

Start Your Free Trial

What literary devices are used in "Death be not Proud" by John Donne?

Expert Answers info

Jay Gilbert, Ph.D. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Lecturer

bookB.A. from University of Oxford

bookM.A. from University of Oxford

bookPh.D. from University of Leicester


calendarEducator since 2017

write2,220 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

Other educators have already noted that the key literary device holding this poem together is the personification of Death. Personification is a type of metaphor in which something that is not human is accorded human attributes and described as if it has human motivations. Further to this, however, it should also be noted that death is not actually present, and yet the speaker is addressing it, or him. This form of address is a literary device known as apostrophe, and we can see it most specifically in the opening of the poem—"Death, be not proud"—and in the closing "Death, thou shalt die."

We can also find language features in this poem such as a rhyme scheme and use of the fourteen-line sonnet structure. Donne also uses alliteration ("those whom thou think'st thou dost...").

One interesting feature of this poem is its use of accumulation. This is a rhetorical device in which the speaker intensifies the weight of his point by adding more and more elements to his argument. We can see this...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 679 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write9,527 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

litlady33 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write272 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial