Dialogue and antagonism in Donne’s theatre of the soul
in William Shakespeare and John Donne
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This chapter summarizes how the soliloquy helps the speaker approach his soul and meditate on its condition in Donne’s Holy Sonnets. The soliloquy is based on a double perspective: a speaker is confronted with his soul and talks to it, and he is affected as an anguished soul and talks to himself. The effect of this doubling is personification, which helps him express psychological urgency. The soliloquy thus turns out to establish a connection between religious self-assurance of redemption and the psychology of the speaker. Donne’s perpetual reference to drama through allusion and the communicative situation makes the Holy Sonnets extraordinary in their poetic quality. Donne’s speaker explores the condition of the soul, and, in this exploration, comes to know not only himself but also God.

William Shakespeare and John Donne

Stages of the soul in early modern English poetry

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