Much of John Donne’s Holy Sonnet poetry was included in or referenced by the play W;t. One Sonnet that was not included in the play was Holy Sonnet I. This exemption, which by no presumption would be considered as a mistake, could have added a greater depth to Vivian’s plight.
In Holy Sonnet I, the character talks about how God has made him and yet he is going to die, not believing that God would just let him die after all the work it took to create him. Not only is he dying, but he is dying quickly (I run to death, and death meets me fast) just as Vivian only has 2 hours left to live. By adding this line, it could in a tragic way advise the audience that death is fast approaching. On the other hand, by Vivian saying “I’ve got less than two hours. Then: curtain. (Page 7)” is also used in an abrupt manner which shocks the audience to face the aspect of death without warning just as she had. Although with the Sonnet’s reference, it would let the audience aware with less theatrics.
Towards the end of her life, Vivian is overwhelmed with fear at the prospect of her death. In this sonnet, the character is also fearful of death (I dare not move my dim eyes any way,/Despair behind, and death before doth cast/Such terror,). A few other points about this line in relation with Vivian’s state of mind is that in the capitalization of the words Despair and Such also richly emphasizes the pain and fear that she is currently facing. Despair with a capital D reflects a much more powerful emotion then just the word despair would. Also the fear that she currently feels is enhanced through the phrase “Such terror” other than “such terror”.
Towards the end of the play, Vivian gets sicker as does the character in John Donne’s Holy Sonnet I (and my feeble flesh doth waste). Another similarity between the two is the hope for redemption. Vivian goes through her redemption with the nurse taking care of her at the end and her old mentor reading her a children’s story. The character goes through this redemption by thinking that he is going to hell (my feeble flesh doth waste/By sin in it, which it t’wards hell doth weigh;/Only thou art above, and when towards thee/By thy leave can I look, I rise again;)
The similarities end there however as the rest of the poem is that the main character is again tempted by the devil into sin and that if left to his own devices, he would go with the devil and sin again, but because he is protected by God then his heart is like “iron” and is protected from evil.
Even though the ending of the sonnet does nothing to enhance or move the story of Vivian, the beginning and middle are too similar to see that it could only enhance for the reader and viewer what Vivian is struggling through as she comes to terms with her own mortality.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Holy Sonnet I and W;t
Posted by Brandi at 7:25 PM