Protestantism In Herbert's Batter My Heart

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What happens when the principles of a society’s religion suddenly change? Or, on the contrary, what if it’s the believer the one who decides to change his beliefs? Perplexity, confusion and utter religious disorientation. This is how Early Modern authors must have felt when they saw their spiritual foundations facing new paths and the inevitable clash between Protestantism and Catholicism. Throughout this essay, we are going to see how writers like John Donne and George Herbert channeled their religious anxieties about their relationship with God into the literary form, not only through a process of self-scrutiny and inwardness characteristic of Protestantism, but also by means of cathartic conversations with Him. In order to understand Early…show more content…
By making use of the literary form, including the lyrical mode, they are going to express such preoccupations in a way that would seem as if they were actually talking to Him, as we’ll see next in Donne’s ‘Batter my Heart’ and Herbert’s ‘Love’. In Donne’s ‘Batter my Heart’, we find a poem that features the so discussed theological debate about individuals’ role in the process of salvation. According to the Protestant tradition, individuals were believed to be saved through faith and by grace alone. Here, Donne shows ‘the most ardent desire for connection with God’ (CLUTTERBUCK, p. 135), a way to know how the individual can be sure of God’s relationship with…show more content…
‘He wants God to intervene not at the last day, but now’ because he thinks God still hasn’t ‘done enough for him’ (TARGOFF, p. 122); so that he can redeem himself for his sins and this way be able to ‘stand’ before Him (line 3) as ‘new’ and righteous (line 4). Additionally, he refers to God as a ‘three person’d God’ (line 1), which is a reference to His tripartite nature, the Holy Trinity. There’s some debate whether Donne thought of the soul as a three-part one, or as a single one. The fact that he’s referring to God in this way could be an analogy of man’s having a divided soul (vegetable, sensible and intellectual), however, as discussed by Ramie Targoff, this notion of the ‘tripartite soul’ is not quite regular in all Donne’s works, and so his writing of God in this manner might have nothing to do with the matter (TARGOFF, p. 10). Moving on to line 5, the speaker makes an analogy by comparing himself with an ‘usurpt towne’; his heart has been captured by sin, by an enemy of God, and he’s in need of rescue. Here, we can see how ‘demands for an intense, intimate relation with God […] are often couched in erotic language’ (GUIBBORY). This is done through the voice of a female figure in the form of an unhappy marriage with Satan, mentioned in line 10 when he says ‘am betroth’d unto your enemie’. Hence that he needs help
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