Chapter

John Donne: Self-Oriented Self-Consciousness

Robert Ellrodt

in Seven Metaphysical Poets

Published in print May 2000 | ISBN: 9780198117384
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670923 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198117384.003.0002
John Donne: Self-Oriented Self-Consciousness

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The poetry of John Donne reflects the workings of his self-awareness. An inordinate egotism, an acute self-consciousness of a special kind, and an ever-defeated search for his own identity are characteristics of his inspiration. Donne's self-centredness, obvious in his lyrics and elegies, pervades all his writings. When he turned to divine love, the orientation of Donne's mind did not change. In his sermons, Donne is nearly always dramatically present. He was also obsessed with the idea of suicide, just as he was obsessed with his own disease and fate throughout the Devotions. Donne's quest for self-knowledge brings into play his egotism; it is ultimately directed to an achievement of personal identity which apparently becomes an end in itself. Donne's self-dramatization was probably part of his desire to define himself. The consequences of self-consciousness are traceable in Donne's attitude to love and death and in his religious feelings.

Keywords: John Donne; self-consciousness; self-awareness; egotism; poetry; self-centredness; suicide; self-knowledge; love

Chapter.  9277 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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