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The Neoplatonic Conception Of Love Between People English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1727 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The concept of love in the neoplatonic point of view is viewed as a very strong connection between people. However, love is viewed as an emotion that can be experienced in different forms thus there is the spiritual love and the physical love. It is viewed as a force that can be used to bind everything together and this is highly connected to the love present in religion. This is attributed to the fact that love is the main reason why God has spread himself in the world. The spiritual love that is shared between two people is compared to the love that God shares with people although this has been quite a controversial issue within religion. Love at a spiritual level is viewed as the connection of souls where one has to separate themselves from any physical connection. This kind of love has been known to be quite strong but there is the point that the physical connection is equally important.

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In one of the poems written by Donnie the ecstasy the concept of the soul needing the body is derived as one of the souls in the lovers’ story needs the body in order to attain complete satisfaction. The importance of physical connection is also viewed in the second poem where the love if felt despite the fact that here is no spiritual connection. This is attributed as to one of the reasons why the concept of sex does not lack in most love poems. Therefore, this paper aims to look at the concept of the neoplatonic conception of spiritual and physical love derived from two poems.

Donne’s perception of the Neoplatonic Love is seen to be reflected as two different conceptions but is connected by the same impulse. He uses the concept of renaissance so as to captivate the perception of love according to the neoplatonic love. The human body is used as a mirror of the physical love experienced between people. Donne uses the love shared between two lovers to show that the world can be a small space if it is compressed accordingly. The love shared by the two individuals indicates that they feel like they are the only people existing in the world. Spiritual connectivity is brought out in the poem but it clearly is not enough as the religious concept is not fully brought out as sexual ecstasy. Donne aims o compare religious fulfillment to that of sexual ecstasy and places the two concepts against each other. He feels that the pleasure gained from the two concepts is the same and this is expressed in his work. This was a shocking concept especially considering that it was being done during the renaissance period.

Donne’s poetry is very intimate when it gets to the connection that the souls share in form of love. The souls do not seem to share the connection with the body as they are suspended in a space of their own where their love exists. Their souls are at peace with each other when they are suspended from their bodies and they communicated in a language that only they could understand. During the entire time their bodies lay motionless as their souls bonded with each other. However, even if sex is not involved in the love connection, the bodies are viewed to be very important. This is indicated at the point where one of the souls misses the body and decides to go back.

The love that existed between the two lovers seemed to be enough without having their souls involved but with time it proved that physical love was important as well. According to Neo platonic views, love is the main thing that binds all things together. As much as the concept was based on the emotion of love and that it can sustain all, the fact that human beings are fundamentally social is also clearly brought up in the concept. This is despite the fact that the human souls are known to function best when in isolation from the body but the results are not always satisfactory without the body playing its own function. This is compared to the spiritual relationship that an individual shares with God since one is said to seek total contemplation when he is in Isolation seeking God. Thus, if the relationship shared between two people is in the same path as the love of God, then the relationship between the two lovers if the greatest love of all times.

The concept of sex is important despite the fact that it is not reflected on a personal level but the connection that the two lovers have bring out the concept rather clearly. The poem appears to be incomplete without it because the neoplatonic love distinguishes between normal sexual pleasure and passionate love. Thus, the connection shared by the souls represents passionate love that could be used to discuss sex in the poem. The sex part of the poem is important as it shows the physical connection that people have which means that their bodies have to play a role. The poem tries to show how the love of the two lovers would strive within their spiritual connection but this is not made possible as the soul longs for the body at some point.

Another area where neoplatonic love is highlighted in the form of poetry is in the poem he Passionate Shepherd to His love. The speaker in the poem is a shepherd who is ready to pledge his love and do anything for the female he so admires. He proposes these sacrifices if only the female would agree to be his. The concept of sex is not brought out openly but it is felt in the poem. The speaker does not express the need to enjoy a long term commitment with the female object but his admiration in her is evident. This could mean that he is interested in her sexually in that eh even proposes to give her the finest clothes that the fur from the lambs can make and dress her in expensive ornaments. This will make her an object of his desire in a sexual manner. This is seen in that his main aim is he wants her to come and live with him but which role and enjoy the pleasures of love together. The body of the female of object is viewed as a source of entertainment for the shepherd. The poem is very intimate in expressing emotions to the female object but the aim derived from the passionate expressions is that he wills to posses her sexually.

The desire that the shepherd has for the female object is what represents the presence of the woman although she does not play any other role in the poem. The shepherd has physical love for and passion or his object of desire and uses physical matter to woo her. The fact that the shepherd says come live with me and be my love expresses the fact that he is mainly focused on the physical love other than the spiritual connection that the two individuals might have with each other. However, the fact that he is keen enough to offer these gifts shows that he is greatly attracted to her and this is interpreted as love. His approach to the lady is rather civil as he does not directly mention the concept of sex. He knows that he directly makes his motives clear then he might miss out on the chance with the lady.

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According to the neoplatonic love, passion and attraction varies according to different stages and in this case the love for physical beauty is clearly established. The physical attractiveness is what captures the heart of the shepherd and he approaches it by offering physical attraction as well. The time also matters as it is a pastoral tradition and the available items that can be used to attract the female are used effectively. As much as this poem is set in the renaissance period and the concept of love is greatly reflected in the poem, the subject of sex is also present but in a less expressive manner. The shepherd is calling on the female so that she can be his lover.

The subject of sex has been known to play a great role in most poems and this is no exception. This may be attributed to the fact that the poet wants to show the physical attraction that is existent in the concept of love. This is connected to the fact that human beings are very social and this is mainly expressed on physical terms. This forms the completion process of two lovers had begun as proven in the first poem the connection of the soul through the basis of love is not satisfactory enough. Physical attraction and connection is what completes the connection that the souls have hence, the concept of sex is mainly relayed in poems that revolve around love.

Neoplatonic conception spiritual and physical love is reflected in the two poems but by using different approaches. The two aspects body and spirit are viewed differently when it comes to the connection of love. At some point spiritual love that is experienced between souls is compared to that spiritual love that God shares with His people. This is because there is the belief that the purpose of human life is to achieve that spiritual connection that man should have with God. For this concept to be achieved, man should separate himself from the physical world and engage with God at a more spiritual level. The same theory is taken and applied in the concept of love. The bonding between souls is considered to be quite passionate and emotional and intimate than the physical connection shared between people. This is the concept that is derived from the ecstasy poem, where the speaker expresses a feeling of victory and satisfaction once the souls are bonding in an intimate session. However, the concept of neoplatonic love has been quite controversial because at some point, the soul is seen to need the body. Thus, this shows that the existence of the soul without the body does not bring out the desired results in form of connection and passion.


The physical connection that bodies have is mainly attributed top the fact that human beings are very social and there cannot be existence of the soul connections without physical attachment. This is clearly seen in the second poem where the love that exists between two people physically proves to be equally passionate. The shepherd expresses his love at a physical level and sex is behind his intentions although he does not make that clear. Other factors clearly indicate where the interests of the shepherd lie and he views the body of the female object as impressive and entertaining. Although, the aspect of spiritual connection is not fully expressed in the second poem there is clearly a lot of passion in the shepherd.


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