A Bakhtinian Reading of John Donne’s Parody Poem “The Bait”

Refaat Alareer, Noritah Omar, Hardev Kaur


While conventional critics seek the comic aspect of parody, modernist critics credit parody with questioning mainstream literary trends and subverting literary production. For instance, Mikhail Bakhtin believes in parody’s power to create “a decrowning double” by turning the official worldview up-side-down. For experimental poets like John Donne, parody transcends mere comical imitation into a serious practice. Donne, having lived in the heyday of the Renaissance with its overemphasis on decorum and courtly love, sought refuge in parody to resist and disturb existing norms of versification and offer an alternative worldview. This paper examines John Donne’s parody poem “The Bait” in the light of Bakhtin’s concept of parody as a decrowning double. The analysis shows that not only had Donne resorted to parody to criticize the society, but he also employed it to undermine established rules of poetry. The study concludes that Donne used parody to create an important platform to liberate poetry from dominant modes of versification, invite readers, often by means of defamiliarisation, to reconsider their stance and literary taste, and promote experimental styles; thus, Donne transcends the norms of prevalent courtly love poetry once and for all.



John Donne, Parody, Poetry, Mikhail Bakhtin, Canon, Neoclassicism, Intertextuality

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.alls.v.8n.1p.200


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