In “Meditation 17,” the author faces his own mortality when he listens to the bell toll for someone else’s death. Donne used memorable comparisons or “conceits” to express the plea that all people are connected to each other and to God.
English Connection to the Selection:
When Ernest Hemingway used a phrase from this work as the title for his novel For whom the Bell Tolls and included some of the text in the book, he sparked s much interest that publishers rushed to reissue “Meditation 17.” The concept that “No man is an island” was used to stir interest in a conflict (The Spanish Civil War) half a world away.
Metaphysical conceits are extended comparisons that link objects or ideas not commonly associated.
Vocabulary you may need to know for the selection:
Catholic applying to humanity generally
Contention dispute, argument
Head…body In the Bible, St. Paul calls Jesus the head ( spiritual leader) of all men (1 Corinthians 11:3) and a body in which the faithful are unified ( 1 Corinthians 12:12).
Intermit cease foe a while
Piety devotion to sacred duties
Manor landed estate
Questions Related to Meditation XVII:
Do you think suffering is a good thing? Explain.
What event does the tolling bell announce?
Why does Donne say the tolling bell applies to him as well as others?
In this passage, to what does Donne compare mankind?
Analyze the conceit that compares mankind to volume. Pinpoint and explain the conceit in the second paragraph.
What extended metaphor does Donne use to show a single individual’s relationship to all mankind?
Explain the conceit in the last paragraph.
What reason does Donne give for saying “Any man’s death diminishes me”?
What does Donne mean by “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the...