Thursday, September 11, 2008

Student comment

From classfellow H.P.
In lecture today we discussed Meditation XVII by John Donne. While focusing on the third paragraph you stated that the line "never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." embodies the idea that death is imminent. However, in reading the essay I interpreted the line to focus on interconnectedness. Because we are all connected, one is affected by another's death. Therefore, in sorrow and in cause, a part of thestill-living person also dies. My interpretation was largely influenced bythe earlier statement that "any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind..."
This is exactly right, except there is no opposition here. The essay's purpose (defined by its occasion as a sermon) is to encourage the sense of charity, that we are 'all members of the one body" to use Donne's biblical metaphor. The essay's method is to awaken the a sense of mortality in the readers ("....send not to ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.")