Division of the Body and Soul in John Donne's "The Funeral" and "Sonnet 3"

Division of the Body and Soul in John Donne's "The Funeral" and "Sonnet 3"

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Division of the Body and Soul

John Donne's "The Funeral" and "Holy Sonnet 3" are undeniably similar in their discussions of the separation of the body and soul. Each poem deals directly with the idea of death and afterlife. However, the topic of death is referred to not as an ending but more of as a beginning to a new life, exclusively for the soul. Each poem reflects the soul being released from the body as a way of cleansing the spirit while allowing the mind to rid itself of things that might have troubled the speaker while living. Through death the soul is given a second life, free of previous concerns and with new virginity to the blessings of the afterlife.

While reviewing "The Funeral" the first thing that became apparent was the title. A funeral is ceremony held in connection with the burial of a dead person. So already just by looking at the title we become aware that we are dealing with a dead body. Death, in some cultures, is the separation of the body from the soul. The soul continues to live and may even find shelter in another body. Again, from the title of the poem we can tell that death will be the main idea. Digging into the first stanza of the poem, we can begin with the analysis of the first few lines. "Whoever comes to shroud me, do not harm nor question much, That subtle wreath of hair, which crowns my arm; the mystery, the sign you must not touch, for `tis my outward soul" (line 1-5) The speaker is telling the people who come to mourn him not to disturb his body. He speaks about the hair that "crowns [his] arm" (line 3) is considered armor to his dead body. The hair is protecting his soul and this is why he must not be disturbed. What is being insinuated is that the soul has become vulnerable after th...


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...at significance but more importantly, they see death as a way of escaping the sin and pain that manifests itself on earth. The body is considered a shipping crate when it comes to the soul. It is something for the soul to reside in until it has fulfilled its purpose on earth. Then it leaves, to start a new life in another shipping crate. With a clean conscious each of the characters in these poems are able to die guilt-free and both believe they will ascend to heaven. They acknowledge the fact that their souls will carry on after their bodies have died and seem to rest assure in the fact that there is more to life than the experiences they had on earth. Similar to the way souls are regarded by today's standards, it is something that departs from person upon death and carries the memory of an individual forever. I think John Donne would have agreed with this idea.

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