Satire In Satire Iii Essay

1100 words - 4 pages

During the mid 1590’s John Donne went through a life changing personal struggle in regards to religious opinions. It was during this time that Donne began to make his move from the faith of Catholicism he practiced during childhood as a member of the Roman Catholic Church, to Protestantism through the Church of England. According to of Richard Strier’s book Resistant Structures: Particularly, Radicalism, and Renaissance Texts Donne “for a remarkably long time, was a religious nothing” (121) using this period, of “intellectual and religious bachelorhood” (122) to develop his own ideas, thoughts, and opinions on religion through freedom of conscience. One of the results from this period in Donne’s life was his creation of the third Satire (“Of Religion”). In his work Satire III, John Donne uses the literary genre of satire as a means for critiquing a multitude of religious stances. Donne expresses his own personal problems and discoveries about religion as he engages in freedom of conscience to develop a solution. After reading Satire III, I believe that the effect or outcome that Donne wishes to achieve through his satire of specific religious approaches and authorities is that his readers will also engage in freedom of conscience to seek true religion instead of simply following their religious mascot of choice.
Donne begins Satire III by talking about the folly of religion as a whole. The opening lines (1-9) tackle an odd combination of meaningful and ethical questions that he cannot seem to answer and is truly perplexed by. “Kind pity chokes my spleen; brave scorn forbids/Those tears to issue which swell my eyelids;/I must not laugh, nor weep sins and be wise;/Can railing, then, cure these worn maladies?/Is not our mistress, fair Religion,/As worthy of all our souls' devotion/As virtue was in the first blinded age?/Are not heaven's joys as valiant to assuage/Lusts, as earth's honour was to them?” The first question Donne asks is should we be angry or should we be sad about the current state that religion is in? And then he asks if we should we devote ourselves to religion or should religion claim our devotion? The irony Donne wants his reader to see in this is: that no matter the religion we look to for the answers to these questions the answer or lack thereof, remains the same. Donne uses this irony to indicate the foolishness of the current state of religion. In the next section of the poem, Donne continues to ridicule the current state of religion by mocking individuals that fight in its honor.
In lines 16-42 Donne describes the issues such as the participation of the English in foreign wars, colonizing expeditions, the Dutch revolting against the Spanish, and men fighting over women or honor in the London streets. “Dar'st thou aid mutinous Dutch, and dar'st thou lay/Thee in ships' wooden sepulchres, a prey/To leaders' rage, to storms, to shot, to dearth?/Dar'st thou dive seas, and dungeons of the earth?/... and must every he/Which...

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