Thursday, 15 September 2011

Hello New Y13!

Hi Y13
Right, I've thrown you in at the deep end and got you stuck straight in to critical analysis. For your homework, you need to leave a comment on this post. You'll see it just below.
You need to write 200words of analysis on one of the sections of Donne's elegy you looked at today.
Any problems then please let me know.You can leave a comment or contact me on my school email.
Quite a short post this time, but next week's, after the analysis lesson, will have more information.


  1. Section 2 – ‘In such white robes... my seal shall be’

    Throughout the poem, the speaker often refers to his mistress as clothed in white, ‘white robed’ or and an ‘angel’. Not only does it create a religious element associated with sexual intercourse, but also represent virginity and innocence. Furthermore, by describing her as angelic, it may reveal that he feels she holds a higher status than him during intercourse. The speaker uses a simile to describe, ‘A Mahomet’s Paradise’, a place peopled with beautiful women ready to satisfy the carnal desires of the male inhabitants. By depicting such a place as ‘a heaven’, it suggests that the speaker’s personal heaven would be full of women ready to please him, in this instance his mistress. These two opinions are extremely conflicting, illustrating her as ‘angelic’ on one hand, however subordinate to him on the other. This could imply that even though her physical attributes and sexual attraction is heavenly, ultimately she is still below him. Furthermore, the speaker asks his mistress to ‘License my roving hands,’ illustrating him asking permission to touch her, ‘before, behind, between, above, below.’ By creating a list of where he wishes to touch her, as opposed to saying ‘everywhere’, it makes the process seem continual and never-ending. The use of the word ‘license’ makes the ordeal seem to be an official formality, therefore removing any romanticism. Also, to ‘license’ creates a monetary image, possibly suggesting an act of prostitution between the couple. His mistress is later referred to as ‘O my America! my new-found land.’ This demonstrates the theme of a conquest to lure his mistress into bed. In addition, it creates a feeling of the unexplored, implying her virginity and highlighting the fact that his mistress was nothing before he discovered her.


  2. Part 1 ' In this love's hallowed temple, this soft bed.'

    Religion is clearly a main theme in this poem, and Donne seems to be favouring Islamic references more than any other, shown through the reference to ‘shoes’ and the removing of them is seen as a act of purification on entering the place of worship, the mosque.

    Indefinitely the use of ‘temple’ instantly creates a mystical and profound image of worship in our minds, this creates a sense of ambiguity for the reader as we begin to think he is comparing her to the something as prominent in society as a temple, which likens her to something which is regarded higher than man himself, this is off putting as it seems the woman portrayed in the poem is insubordinate compared to him, frequently seen throughout the poem, such as the use of an imperative word like ‘off’ allows the reader to recognise Donne’s voice as being very commanding. Noticed by the use of the negative prefix ‘un’ we further recognise his commanding tone to be rather jealous and anger-filled.

    Shown strongly through the line; ‘as flowry meads th’ hill’s shadow steals’, with his intense and excited tone; one can presume this line translates quite simply as him taking the woman’s virginity through the act of intercourse, referring to her light being taken, we can likewise analyse this as an act of vengeance towards the ‘mistress’, Donne is wanting to take away her light, positivity and virginity, in hope of fulfilling this, he will make the woman not only internally insubordinate but also physically as any power or strength she did have will be stricken. presenting the feminist view of the poem to be in serious lacking; the woman as a weaker character fulfils the stereotype of woman in the 1600's,submissive.


  3. Section 4- “Full nakedness... More covering than a man?

    Donne makes the poem from a perspective of a male, through the male speaker the poem is directed at male readers.
    At the beginning of section four the explanation mark shows excitement after the words 'full nakedness' showing the element of sexual attractiveness to the idea of being naked.
    This is then emphasised on the second line 'souls unbodied, souls unclothed' using the repetition of 'un' shows that he's in control as the tone of voice is created. The line can also be read as a religious reference to Adam and Eve. The word 'unclothed' can relate to Adam and Eve being naked in the garden of Eden, thus the male speaker could believe that being naked is of a perfection.

    The male, thinks he's better than other males due to using the word 'gems' which are adorements of women and the words 'Atlanta’s balls' are distractions. Saying that women’s jewellery are distracting to the male eye. Then he says that only 'fool's' are distracted by a women’s gems as he is not. Using the words 'mystic books' he is referring to his mistress and women as objects in which are ready to be read or revealed. That only he and certain others are aloud access into them.
    The word 'Must' shows he is commanding and has authority in the relationship.

    Using the word 'white' can been read as pure and the idea of virginity.
    He says 'I am naked first' showing that he is ready.
    Donnes last line is 'needst thou have more covering than a man?'
    Finishing the poem on a rhetorical question, asking for equal rights between the women and men.


  4. The repetition of “white” has connotations of virginity, and the condescending tone of “In such” only mocks this virginity. It also challenges the “robes” which form the physical barrier of the mistress’s naked form. Religious references: ‘Angel’, ‘heaven’ and ‘Paradise’, are used to suggest that sex is part of faith and is condoned by god. In this section sibilance is used to create a soft sound, which makes the sexual content seem more sensual. This can by contrasted with the alliteration of ‘b’ in “Before, behind, between, above, below”, which might be trying to simulate the sound of sex rather than romanticising it. Woman is portrayed as both ends of the spectrum “we easily know By this these angels from an evil sprite”. This conveys a sense of women being temperamental and is also a warning that the refusal of sex in this ‘Paradise’ is a very serious sin. ‘Evil sprite’ is a harsh syllable and has mythical references so suggests that woman is an elusive species that is different to man. The next stanza starts with “License” and ends with “seal”, suggesting that sex can always be an official act void of emotion.

  5. Given the tone and lexis of this poem, it could be argued that it is written from a sexually aggressive, impatient and patriarchal perspective.

    One of the most striking indicators of this in the beginning of the poem is the repetition of “off” as a strong imperative (i.e. “Off with that girdle…”), creating a sense of male dominance very early on.

    The use of the word “labour” to describe the act of sex at the very beginning of the poem (enforced later in the poem with “as liberally as to a midwife…”) connotes an almost pragmatic approach to the whole process. This also gives the poem a very masculine feel.

    The implication that the woman’s clothes are in some way distracting, “unpin that spangled breastplate… that th’ eyes of busy fools may be stopped there”, as well as the reference to Atlanta’s balls nearer the end of the poem, indicates an almost primeval masculinity, in that clothes, fashion, etc. are meaningless, and even off-putting (“eyes… may be stopped there”) hindrances and are only serving to form a physical barrier between him and this woman.

    The religious references, specifically to Islam; “love’s hallowed temple”, “Mahomet’s paradise” also connote patriarchy, although this also serves to form a strange juxtaposition between religion and sex, perhaps emphasizing how important sex is to the speaker.


  6. Donne refers to the woman in the peom as "my America" at the time of writing America would have only recently discovered, because of this it would have been fairly unexplored to it would seem the same is being said for the woman in the poem suggesting she is a virgin. It would also seem to suggest that the nameless women is a virgin with the repeated references to the colour white throughout the peom. He continues the idea of America when he refers to "discovering thee" showing that he sees the woman (and possibly women on the whole) as something to be "discovered" by men, it also suggests that he sees this woman as a conquest again objectifying this woman.


  7. The narrator claims he is above other men, not just with the allusion to being a member of the clergy by referring to 'lay-men' as if he is not one, but also with his reference to them being 'fools' who are distracted by the 'gems which you women use'. He compares these to gems to 'Atlanta's balls' referring to the Greek myth where Melanion dropped golden apples during the race for Atlanta to stop and pick up so he could win the race and so marry her, in this case the narrator comparing himself to Atlanta, except that he wouldn't be distracted by the metaphorical apples - gems, clothes women wear. From a feminist perspective the narrator could be encouraging equality by comparing the man of the poem to a woman, or it could be viewed as him criticizing Atlanta for getting distracted - possibly alluding this is a womanly trait - and loosing the race. Winning the race would prevent Atlanta from marrying, the narrator suggesting winning is important so perhaps indicating he doesn't agree with the idea of monogamy, supported by the fact he has a mistress.

    He speaks of sex in very spiritual terms, 'as souls unbodied, bodies unclothes must be to taste whole joys', souls referred to again with 'his earthly soul' suggesting the men who focus on the clothes and 'gems' of woman will never 'taste - the - whole joys' that he can, perhaps for true joy people needn't be clothed, this could be referencing Adam and Eve and the fact they were naked until they discovered sin and shame.

    'Must' suggests a lack of choice on either side, almost like a duty, the idea of their relationship being more one of professionals than romantic emphasised with the comparison 'as to a midwife', this also suggesting there is no shame with either of them ,as there is no shame in a pregnant woman being unclothed for a midwife. 'White' is another reference to virginity, like others previously in the poem, as well as 'to teach thee'. 'I am naked first' suggests an equality in their relationship, unlike previously in the poem where she is referred to as more of an object.

  8. “As souls unbodied, bodies unclothed must be” (34)
    This line that appears towards the beginning of the penultimate stanza evoke various interpretations. Firstly, the reader can interpret this in a Neoplatonic sense; that the connection of two souls outside of the body (Neoplatonic love), is just as essential to a relationship as physical love is.
    Shakespeare refers to Neoplatonic love as “unchanging love. It alone defeats death and the vagaries of time.” We get a real sense from Donne that this is true as is shown by the vast array of heavenly language that connotes ideas of unchanging love for his mistress, such as “heaven’s zone glistering” and referring to her as an “angel”.
    The use of the word “must” in this line creates a sense of impatience in the narrator and may also suggest that they are very demanding.
    Another interpretation of this line may be that the narrator wants equality between him and his unspeaking mistress (somewhat of a juxtaposition in itself). However, we are not clear as to whether or not the mistress ever does get undressed, creating a sense of desperation in the narrator.