Gender and the Sacred Self in John Donne

By Elizabeth M. A. Hodgson | Go to book overview

2
Baptism: “The Second Birth”

Baptism in the English Reformed Church of the seventeenth century is a ritual intrinsically linked to another, that of birth itself.1 The traditional identification of the female womb with original sin thus places powerful spiritual demands on this sacrament: it must redeem or save the corrupt and fleshly birth which has preceded it. The model of baptism as a redemption of birth's and the womb's evils is abundantly clear in the liturgies of the baptismal rite and in the cleansing ceremony for new mothers, and its importance is not just theological but cultural as well. Such ambivalence toward the maternal persona is clear in the social meaning of a “gossip,” for instance: the term could be used to refer to a woman who engages in idle and malicious talk, a midwife, or a baptismal godparent of either sex (from “god-sib”) (OED). The term defines a caricature of woman's sinfulness, represents a female birth-giver, and is an ungendered term for the honored baptismal sponsor. Just so the evils of the female womb are connected to the transcendant power of baptism's spiritual rebirth.

Such a complex ideology of women's childbearing capacities might be expected to have a powerful effect on the metaphorical applications of such capacities. This isn't always immediately evident when Donne and other writers of the period make frequent connections between their own literary creations and fleshly female birthing by imagining themselves as mothers to their texts. The long classical tradition of such imagery seems to be the central antecedent when Philip Sidney says he is “great with child to speak,” when Jonson calls his child his “best piece of poetry,” when Herbert “represents the writing of poems to be a process like gestation” and plays on the “mater/metra” pun in his Latin verse, or when Milton and others multiply the meanings of “conception.”2 In “Elegy XIX” Donne imagines himself as his lover's midwife and herself as his text; in his verse-letters, where he is particularly self-conscious about his poetic identity, his verses

-26-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Gender and the Sacred Self in John Donne
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Acknowledgments 9
  • 1- Introduction 13
  • 2- Baptism- "The Second Birth" 26
  • 3- Marriage- "Joyes Bonfire" 71
  • 4- Death- "Involved in Mankind" 113
  • 5- The Anniversaries 162
  • Notes 188
  • Works Cited 208
  • Index 218
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 226

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.