Discuss the significance of religious belief in writing you have studied on the course.
The Renaissance period was marked with bouts of religious change, from the Protestant Reformation in Germany to the formation of the Church of England. Much of the literature published during the Renaissance was a reaction to these constant changes – the works of John Donne and Francis Bacon are no different. Donne and Bacon were prominent writers of their time. They were well-known for indulging in religious debate through their work, especially with relation to other societal issues such as the rise of science. Donne's Satire III highlights the issue of religious uncertainty and Bacon's essays highlight an improbable idea of religious utopia in a world of religious uncertainty.
Religious Uncertainty in Donne's Satire III
To fully understand Donne's work, one must endeavour to understand his religious views at the time Satire III was written. Many critics agree that the poem was written whilst Donne was in the transitional stage from Catholicism to Anglicanism (Moore 1969: 41). The poem is put forth as Donne's justification for shirking the religion he was born into. Literary scholar Sir Herbert Grierson, for example, hypothesized that Satire III's cynicism against the Church was Donne's way of justifying his move away from the Catholic Church. Grierson explains how Donne's Catholicism was getting in the way of his public career and upon studying the social aspects of religion, Donne was able to shirk his Catholicism by stating that religion was something that one was unfairly born into, not something one chose for himself. Donne later chose Anglicani...
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Grierson, Herbert. Poems of John Donne. 1964. Oxford University Publishing. PRINT.
Milgate, W. John Donne: The Satires, Epigrams and Verse Letters. 1967. Oxford University Press. Print.
Moore, Thomas V. Donne's Use of Uncertainty as a Vital Force in "Satyre III". 1969. Chicago Journals. PRINT.
Moore, Thomas V. Donne's Use of Uncertainty as a Vital Force in "Satyre III". 1969. Modern Philology 67.1. pp 41-49. JSTOR.
Smith, A. J. John Donne. 2010. Psychology Press. PRINT.
Sloane, Mary Cole, Image As Emblem In John Donne's Poetry. 1971. Dissertations from ProQuest. Paper 384. PRINT.
Zivley, Sherry. Imagery in John Donne's Satyres. 1966. Studies in English Literature 6.1: 87-95. JSTOR.
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