Death, be not proud by John Donne

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In Death, Be Not Proud by John Donne, why does the poet feel that Death is arrogant?

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Laurine Herzog eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In this poem, the speaker directly addresses and mocks a personification of death. He implies that "Death" is proud or arrogant because it thinks that it "overthrow(s)" its victims. In other words, "Death" is arrogant because it thinks that it is able to completely conquer the people it takes.

However, the speaker says that "Death" overthrows its victims only temporarily. The speaker compares death to sleep, which is peaceful, restorative, and nothing to be afraid of. The speaker also says that death is, in fact, ultimately a good thing in that it brings about the "soul's delivery" and the moment when "we awake eternally." Here, the poet is implying that death's victory over mankind is really not a victory at all. Death doesn't overthrow its victims but rather helps them to move into the better world of the afterlife, where the soul is free and life is eternal. Death is...

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