Purity through Nature: A Comparative Analysis of Metaphoric Structures Linked to Nature in the Poetic Works of John Donne and Langston Hughes

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Stewart, Lenaya
Rosenthal, Laura
When poets manipulate and blend categorical language and imagery through the use of metaphor, they change the reality within the poetic work. The purpose of this paper is to extend on the already occurring argument in regards to the role of nature and metaphor in literary works. This paper will demonstrate how images of nature work as tools of social validation for ostracized lifestyles and racial groups. Within the frame of a comparative analysis of John Donne’s “The Bait” and “The Primrose” and Langston Hughes’ “Dreams” and “Dream Variation” this argument focuses on the way metaphors turn towards nature for purity and then include people within the newly constructed natural image. Questions that are developed and answered are (a) How is metaphor used as a tool of social validation? (b) How can images of nature increase persuasiveness and influence social acceptance? and (c) How has the use of nature evolved over poetic history?
Winner of the 2015 Library Award for Undergraduate Research.