John Donne: Poems

Sexism Within Donne's "Elegy 19"

In his essay "A Defence of A Womans Inconstancy," John Donne wrote of the female race that "for all their fellowship will they never be tamed, nor Commanded by us." His affinity for the grace and beauty of women is evident in his many works. Yet Donne establishes a paradox within his own poetry that ignites controversy over his view of women in general. Achsah Guibbory, in his article "The Politics of Love in Donne's Elegies," contends that "We may not like to admit the presence of misogyny in one of the greatest love poets in the English language, but we need to come to terms with it" (813).

Though widely known for his witty and intellectual poetry of love, at first glance John Donne is not typically seen as a misogynist, but rather as a craftsman of words and metaphors, providing "an astonishing variety of attitudes, viewpoints, and feelings" (Logan, 1235). Written during the seventeenth century, Donne's poem "Elegy 19," later titled "To His Mistress Going to Bed," is a sexual allegory illustrating the male perspective of intercourse. However, this descriptive and whimsical elegy provides a clear objectification of women, both through Donne's use...

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