Holy Sonnet 14

A discourse analysis of John Dunne’s Holy Sonnet 14.

This paper discusses how poetry, perhaps more than prose, is open to a variety of possible interpretations and how, when Holy Sonnet 14 by John Donne is analyzed from the perspective of discourse analysis, a variety of interpretations become possible. The poem is considered from various contexts of situations, specifically field, tenor, and mode. It looks at how the field construct shows the religious background of the text, while tenor reveals the complexity of the relationships involved. It also shows how mode demonstrates the emotion with which discourse is modified.
It is from this forced relationship with the devil that the speaker’s anguish relating to his relationship to God comes from. It is because of the enemy’s devious use of his own weakness against him, that the speaker cannot devote to God the actions that match his love for the divine: Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain, (line 9). The speaker wishes for a closer relationship to God than the one he has with the devil. It is obvious that he does not yet feel accomplished in this. It is also clear that he does not feel himself worthy of God’s love before God has complied with his request to divorce him from the hold of the devil.

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