In both A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning and Sonnet 147, Donne and Shakespeare’s use of imagery and symbolism are well used to describe the meaning of love according to them. Death is a recurrent image in both poems. In Sonnet 147, Shakespeare compares the love he has for a woman to a disease. Oftentimes disease is associated with death. He uses this imagery, first when he states “Desire is death” (8); meaning the desire or love he has for this woman, is indeed deadly; a disease which is figuratively leading to his death. Shortly after this, Shakespeare refers to this woman as “Black as hell, as dark as night” (14) although this may not seem like death right away, one must remember that the colour black and night often signify the idea of death. The line before this states “I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright” (13) Therefore the idea he had of this woman, used to be bright and loving, however he now finds her in a way, evil and associates the metaphorical death of his heart to her. Despite using death imagery, Shakespeare also uses medical imagery in the poem. Ultimately disease is associated with medicine. There are a slew of words in the poem which symbolize medical imagery; the words Shak...
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...(31-34) In this metaphor, his wife is the fix’d foot which “in the centre sit”, as she always remains in the same spot, waiting for her husband, the other foot, to return home. Donne writes this, not so much as a love poem, but more as a plea for his wife not to worry about his absence, that their love will only grow stronger, and for her not to be scared that he wont return as (the compass) “makes me end where I begun.” (38) Despite not being classified a metaphysical poet, Shakespeare like Donne, was very famous for his wordplay and metaphors.
Although both authors take different stands on the meaning of love, Donne a positive one and Shakespeare a more negative view; both authors attempt to prove this using imagery and symbols and extended metaphors. The use of metaphors in both Donne and Shakespeare’s poems are intricately intertwined with genius wordplay.
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