Donne, women, and the spectre of misogyny

Theresa M. DiPasquale

in The Oxford Handbook of John Donne

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199218608
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Donne, women, and the spectre of misogyny

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
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This article throws light on a different aspect of the Donne story, that of women in Donne's poetry and the spectre of misogyny. The narrator of Donne's FirAn, who loudly identifies himself as the poem's author, blames Eve and her daughters for human mortality: the ‘first mariage was our funerall’, he says; ‘One woman at one blow, then kill'd vs all, / And singly, one by one, they kill vs now’. Women feature time and again in Donne's poetry. This article collects various opinions and criticisms about Donne's works. Speakers of Donne's erotic poems are less chary of didacticism. Many of the songs and sonets are lectures on women and sex, and more than a few of the speakers — including those of LovAlch, Ind, and Commun — demonstrate deep-seated contempt for females. Several of the speakers in Donne's erotic elegies also preach disrespect for women. An analysis of Donne's poems winds up this article.

Keywords: Donne; women; spectre; misogyny; FirAn; erotic elegies; didacticism

Article.  5679 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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