Margaret Edson's Theocentric 17th Century Poetry

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Despite being more than four centuries apart, Margaret Edson’s 1995 agnostic play ‘W;t’ and John Donne’s theocentric 17th century poetry both portray humanity’s concerns of death and legacy through their representation of individual’s quest for spiritual redemption. A pervasive salvation anxiety permeates both texts, promoting individuals’ reflection on past experiences as their pride and legacy are challenged by the imminent threat of death. It is only through metaphysical concepts of spirituality and human connectedness that individuals come to accept their mortality. Hence a shift in values is achieved in both texts as the coping mechanisms of wit fail and salvation is discovered through acceptance of religious and human connections. Both…show more content…
Both Donne and Vivian come to accept their mortal fate as religious redemption and humanistic connections are achieved. Donne comes to the realisation in ‘Hymn to my god in my sicknesse’ that he will be “coming to that holy roome,” his assuring tone suggesting he has accepted his religious redemption following his repenting of his sins. Vivian’s final connection with E.M. Ashford in the reading of “The Runaway Bunny” metaphorically reveals her need for human closeness exemplified in the juvenile nature of the book, suggesting she must return to her childhood to learn the significance of love and compassion as nurturing agents as means of providing legacy. Ultimately, the concluding visual metaphor in W;t: “she is…reaching for the light”, symbolises, in a 20th century secular context, Vivian’s acceptance of her humanity and her movement towards self-enlightenment as she understands it will enable her to fulfil her legacy, which her intellectual superiority has failed to do. Finally, both ‘W;t’ and Donne come to the conviction and realisation of death’s indefinite nature in, ‘Death be not proud’ and Vivian’s recital of the lines “Death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die,” emphasising that a fear of death is unnecessary as it is not the end but a mere pause. Hence, the acceptance of death’s true nature is achieved through a final understanding of spirituality and

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