Sample Classic English Literature Paper on Death Be Not Proud

Death Be Not Proud

Initial Post

Death is symbolically perceived as a person in the poem “Death Be Not Proud” by John Donne who communicates directly to it throughout the text. John notes that the community perceives death as a mighty and dreadful event.  

“Death be not proud, though some have callèd thee

Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;”

For instance, he brings in the mourning aspect of community members who die which illustrate a loss in the society. As a means of convincing the audience, the author communicates the powerlessness of death in form of a unilateral approach (Donne & Adcock, 2004). John Donne is keen on illustrating the death is just a pathway to eternity life. Traditional communities categorized it as rite of passage similar to birth, circumcision, marriage and death.

The use of metaphor and symbolism in the poem is also captured by the term proud which Death boosts off. The author illustrates that death has no boundaries and it can affect any person as long as they are human beings. For instance, the author uses social classes in the community to illustrate that death has no boundaries.

“And soonest our best men with thee do go,

Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.

Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,

And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,“

Sleeping, as well, has been symbolically included to represents the act of dying which sends one to eternal life (Donne & Adcock, 2004). This dismisses the usual perception of death – as a vice in the community– which forms a strong foundation on the powerlessness of death as the main theme. According to the author, the process of dying takes a predetermined framework which commits one to eternal sleep as the poem illustrates.

“And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,

And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well,

And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?

One short sleep past, we wake eternally,”


Donne, J., & Adcock, F. (2004). ‘Death be Not Proud’. ProQuest LLC.