Satire in Satire III

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During the mid 1590’s John Donne went through a life changing personal struggle in regards to religious opinions. It was during this time that Donne began to make his move from the faith of Catholicism he practiced during childhood as a member of the Roman Catholic Church, to Protestantism through the Church of England. According to of Richard Strier’s book Resistant Structures: Particularly, Radicalism, and Renaissance Texts Donne “for a remarkably long time, was a religious nothing” (121) using this period, of “intellectual and religious bachelorhood” (122) to develop his own ideas, thoughts, and opinions on religion through freedom of conscience. One of the results from this period in Donne’s life was his creation of the third Satire (“Of Religion”). In his work Satire III, John Donne uses the literary genre of satire as a means for critiquing a multitude of religious stances. Donne expresses his own personal problems and discoveries about religion as he engages in freedom of conscience to develop a solution. After reading Satire III, I believe that the effect or outcome that Donne wishes to achieve through his satire of specific religious approaches and authorities is that his readers will also engage in freedom of conscience to seek true religion instead of simply following their religious mascot of choice. Donne begins Satire III by talking about the folly of religion as a whole. The opening lines (1-9) tackle an odd combination of meaningful and ethical questions that he cannot seem to answer and is truly perplexed by. “Kind pity chokes my spleen; brave scorn forbids/Those tears to issue which swell my eyelids;/I must not laugh, nor weep sins and be wise;/Can railing, then, cure these worn maladies?/Is not our mistress, f... ... middle of paper ... ...ough truth and falsehood be/Near twins, yet truth a little elder is” (lns 72-74). One again Donne uses satire, particularly sarcasm here telling the reader to look at your father and fore-fathers as an example of what passes for “true” religion, each generation given a new with every power exchange. The real solution Donne gives for the reader to go and seek true religion for themselves because if they do not and put their faith in one of those varying religions, they are jeopardizing their soul’s chance to get into heaven. “Fool and wretch, wilt thou let thy soul be tied/To man's laws, by which she shall not be tried/At the last day? Oh, will it then boot thee/To say a Philip, or a Gregory,/A Harry, or a Martin, taught thee this?” (lns 93-97). So sarcastically and wittingly Donne states that no man, no Philip, or Gregory, or Harry, or Marin will be thy salvation.
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