Fettering Ignatius to Verse: Donne's Reckoning with the Spiritual Exercises in the Holy Sonnets
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The purpose of this project is to reestablish the Jesuit influence on John Donne's Holy Sonnets in order to better understand the spiritual stagnancy expressed by his speakers. In doing so, this thesis will not examine Donne's poetry as the reproduction of a meditative experience, but as the poet's conscious efforts to contend with his formative traditions by "fettering" them to verse. In these sonnets, Donne dramatizes a conflicted spiritual heritage through the speakers' ambivalent responses to the Jesuit meditative model. As Donne's speakers engage and ultimately reject the requirements of the Spiritual Exercises they uncover the tension between acknowledging one's past and asserting one's selfhood.