Notes on The Apparition - QUOTES, FORM AND STRUCTURE, CONTEXT

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The Apparition 

(Unrequited love, frustration, threat, revenge, supernatural, hidden meanings..) 

  • “When by thy scorn, O murd'ress, I am dead”– hyperbolic, arguably flattering. It is, for some critics, likely to appeal to the vanity of the woman. An example of how Donne is frequently driven to extremes in effort to make himself understood.  

  • ghost come to thy bed”, “sick taper...wink”, “in worse arms”, “aspen” - unrequited love is a drive for threatening actions. Warns her of his posthumous revenge on her refusal. Eager to scare his lover, takes on controlling persona. Plans on disturbing the atmosphere, threaten and belittle her at her most vulnerable state. Aspen metaphor = tree of tremulous leaves.      

  • thee - Use of pronouns to refer to the woman – suggests the speaker’s (past) intimacy with her. Refers to her new lover simply as ‘he’ – undermines him. 

  • “If thou stir, or pinch to wake him, think/ Thou call'st for more” Uncomplicated humour. May also be seen as an intimate, generous compliment. Donne can only say all this from experience of her. So has he maintained the bitter tone to the end?

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