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John Donne wrote the essay, Meditation XVII, from Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions. This piece was written three hundred and seventy-eight years ago in 1678. John Donne wrote this essay at a time when he was very ill. Due to this, the main topic of his essay is that of death and of ones own mortality. In the beginning he lets us know that he is sick when saying and perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me and see my state may have caused it to toll for me The bell Donne is talking about is the one that tolls every time a parishioner dies. Donne says that he might be so sick that the bell may be tolling for him and he does not even know it. At this point he is so sick that people have to take care of him. He feels that the people caring for him may have caused the bell to toll for him, especially those who see how sick he really is. John Donne, emphasizes the unity of the Catholic Church and he describes her as being universal. He says that church ceremonies such as baptisms and funerals are important to him. The young children who are baptized and those who die are all linked to him through God. With every baptism there is another life added to the church family. This life does not act or survive alone. It is connected and affects everyone one elses life in the congregation. In this essay, Donne talks about all humans being a whole. He uses the book as a metaphor, saying that God is the author and every man is a chapter in his book of life. If one person dies, their chapter should not be torn out of Gods book. Instead it should be translated into a better language and every chapter must be so translated Donne believes that God has a hand in everything and that, all which happens, happens for a reason. He states that God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but Gods hand is in every translation. The translations of age, sickness, war, and justice are all things that can cause death. In that case, these elements can translate human beings into spirits of heaven or to anywhere else God chooses to send them. In the middle of his essay, John Donne gives a significant quote No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory wereany mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. This is the most popular quote in John Donnes essay and today people still use this quote in many ways, even though it was written almost four hundred years ago. Donne means that no one person can stand alone. Human beings need others for support and survival. Then he talks about the death bell. He says that the bell tolls for thee, meaning all humankind. Whenever the bell tolls it tolls for more than the one person who has died. It tolls for all those who are left behind to mourn. When a person dies, we not only mourn their death but we mourn our own mortality as well. The death bell can bring focus to our own lives and help us live and discover our meaning. Donne says that it is not enough to go through our own misery but we must all feel the misery of our neighbors and all of mankind. He says that, tribulation is treasure in the nature of if, but it is not current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer out home, heaven, by it. Pain and misery will bring us closer to God. At the end of his essay, Donne suggests that thinking of our own death and misery is not enough. He says that often times we do not think of these things until we are dying. We must also take part in the misery and deaths of others. Through sacrificing and suffering in others miseries we become closer to God. By considering and experiencing the death of others as they leave this world, our thoughts turn closer to God and our own afterlife. At the very end Donny says that God is the only one who can assure out existence in the after life. I found Donnes piece very interesting. I also found it extremely confusing and quite a challenge, which is partially why I was drawn towards it. I read it over and over and took advantage of outside sources in order for me to understand it better. His style of writing is almost before its time and I wondered how this style relates to other works of this time. This work was written a very long time ago and it so well written. Every sentence must be broken apart and reread in order for it to make sense. He expresses themes and true life issues in such a small piece or writing. John Donnes use of figurative language is what he is admired for. He also usesmetaphors to characterize humankind and death. He also relates the human body to a chapter in Gods book. John Donne also asks questions in his essay. These questions add to his style and allow the reader to become more involved and to stop and think. I would like to know and understand more about his use of literary terms and style of his essay. I think that the new criticism approach could help me. Hopefully this approach would be able to aid me in analyzing his writing approach and style of the Meditation essay. After looking and researching an approach that would be most beneficial, I decided to go ahead and stick with the new criticism approach. I found that Internet sites were the most useful and abundant of all sources. Although it was difficult, to pinpoint an exact site that could give me a clear definition of new criticism. The sight I found was very beneficial in helping me understand the concept of new criticism a little better. This website was written by Sklyar Burris and was titled the Literary Criticism Study Guide. Skylar gave a good and clear overview of the numerous critical literary approaches. Before jumping into the paper itself, I thought it would be a good idea to find out the pros and cons of a criticism approach. Burris gave three major purposes of criticism. The first purpose is to help us solve a problem in reading. The second is to help us choose the better of two conflicting readings. Finally the third reason is to help us evaluate all literature and to have a better understanding of its meaning. After finding out some of the reasons for this critical approach, I searched for the site that gave the clearest definition of new criticism. I also found this in Sklyar Burriss website. The definition I received was that new criticism is a formalistic approach to literature and it involves a close reading of the text. Formalistic critics believe that all information necessary to the interpretation of a work must be found within the work itself; there is no need to bring in external information about the history, politics, or society of the time, or about the authors life. Because they are interested in what the work itself has to say, formalistic critics (presumably) so not view works through the lens of feminism, psychology, mythology, or some other such standpoint, and they are not interested in the works affect on the reader. Formalist critics generally delight in a close analysis of irony, paradox, imagery, and metaphor. They are also interested the works setting, characters, symbols, and point of view (4). In the site written by Skylar Burris, I also learned that there are special terms used in the new criticism approach. One of the terms used is tension. Tension is used to describe the integral unity of a work, which results from the resolution of opposites mostly in irony and paradox (5). Intentional fallacy is another term used and it is the belief that the meaning or value of a work may be determined by the authors intention (5). Affective fallacy, is the belief that the meaning and value of a work is determined on how it affects the reader (5). External form are the outside forms such as rhyme scheme, paragraphs, and stanza forms. Objective correlative is a term that refers to a set of object, or a situation, as a chain of events which is the formula of particular emotion, such that when the external facts are given the emotion is immediately invoked (5). I think that tension is a term that I would use most for this piece of work. I also learned some advantages and disadvantages to the new criticism approach. One of the advantages is that this approach emphasizes the value of literature aside from its context. New criticism is also a good starting place from all critical approaches and many other approaches must start at new criticism. Being that it has its advantages, it has disadvantages as well. In Burriss article, I read that through this approach the text is seen in isolation. Formalism ignores the context of the work. It cannot account allusions. It tends to reduce literature to just a few rhetorical devices, such as irony, paradox, and tension (6). This means that the history and conditions of when a work was written does not matter. Unfortunately, that is one of my curiosities relating to Donnes piece. I would have liked to learn more personal things about his life, illness, and time period; however, that probably takes effect in the new historical approach. Since John Donnes essay is such a confusing piece, it takes extra time and effort to understand it. This essay is not something that can be comprehended with only one reading. It must be read repeatedly and even then it is still confusing. In order to help me in understanding this work I went to the Internet and looked up some sites on this work. There are numerous sites on just this one piece written by John Donne. People have used pieces of his essay and applied them to different subjects and to all that is going on in the world. I found one site that was the best out of all of them. It was extremely helpful in allowing me to become more familiar and comfortable with his work, although I am not sure who the owner of this site is and have yet to receive their reply. This site contained John Donnes entire essay and it was written with annotations. These annotations allowed me to click on the areas that were most confusing and would help clear up any questions with its commentary. This site also had many links to other sites relating to John Donne. In Sklyar Burriss website, she also gave a link so that readers may have the chance to see a small example of a new critical approach, applied to a piece of literature. This was the most frightening part of the whole experience and there were no annotations for it either. What I saw looked like a text massacre. This was a piece that had been written by Sandra Cisneros. They then applied the new critical approach to it. The text had literally been ripped inside out, and by the end of the story, it was completely turned around with a different meaning. Unfortunately they didnt clearly explain how to do this. So after paranoia set in, I began to seek other sources that would give me guidelines in ways to apply the new criticism approach. After a not so successful search, I was ready to take a stab at it and attempt the application of the new critical approach to the Meditation XVII. At first I would go back to the basics and to the general definition of new criticism. With the new criticism approach, certain elements are focused on, such as irony, paradox, imagery, metaphors, settings, characters, symbols, and point of view. Most of these elements are self-explanatory but before I can apply these methods to Donnes piece, I must have a clear understanding of what they mean and represent. I think that point of view is the necessary place to start. I would apply the point of view approach to this piece by reading each sentence at the same time taking in to account who is telling this story. I already had known it was written in the first person point of view and now that I read it over, I realized that John Donne refers directly to himself in nearly every sentence. The Meditation XVII has many symbols within its text. Symbols are something that represents something else. The very first sentence starts off with a symbol, as Donne first mentions the bell. On the fourth sentence there is a reference to the church, which symbolizes unity, connection and being universal; however, it also symbolizes death, silence, and disconnection. In line nine, there is another symbol which is the chapter. The word chapter symbolizes the role of each man in Gods Book, which is also another symbol. The island is used as the symbol of humankind. This is used to show that no man/island can live alone and that companionship is necessary, with out it there is no true life. Gold is another important symbol that is talked about at the end of the essay. Gold is described a treasure, money, and as in a mine. When looking at in from the new criticism standpoint, the meaning and symbolism of gold is left out. Gold only seems and represents what it is, such as money. When not seen through the new criticism standpoint, we realize that gold is the symbol of a much higher meaning. Gold is the symbol or experience and suffering. The bell is the most important and symbolic symbol in John Donnes Meditation XVII. The bell occurs in the essay from the very beginning, till the very end. In each of these instances the bell is either tolling or ringing. Through a new critical view the bell can also represent life, and silence. Irony is a mode of speech in which the meaning is the opposite of what is actually expressed. When looking at the approach through the means of irony, the text changes tremendously. The first sentence states for whom this bell tolls may be so ill. When seen through the eyes of irony this could mean that for whom the bell is silent for, may be so healthy that he knows its silent for him and maybe the narrator thinks he is so much healthier than he really is, that when the people who are not around him, do not see him, they cannot cause it to be silent for him. Being that irony is the opposite of what is exactly expressed, it may suggest that people actually dont need others to live and every person is his or her own island. After attempting the new critical approach and not knowing if Im coming or going, I found that I do see Donnes work somewhat different. It is always different when a work is viewed and studied on a different level and approach. The new criticism approach allowed this work to be read through different eyes, creating a different opinion. I really did not care for the new criticism approach applied to the Meditation XVII. I have learned the hard way, that I am more interested in the history of a work and its author, instead of the exact context itself.

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