The 17th Century: Revolutions, Demotions, and Re-evaluations
The Scientific Revolution, the opening of the New World, and the Reformation forced people to re-evaluate human nature, the purpose of human life, and even reality itself.
New realities require new metaphors-- of exploration, discovery, and imaginative association between very different things.
These shocking new metaphors are called conceits.
A conceit is an extended metaphor.
Conceits often explore the shocking similarities between an idea and an object that, at first glance, has nothing to do with the idea.
The "metaphysical poets," led by John Donne, experimented with these new metaphors, and influenced a generation of poets who reacted to the changes in their world in vehement and even violent ways.
Cavaliers and Puritans
Some, like the Cavaliers, embraced the new-fangeldness of the age; others, like the Puritans, yearned for certainty and truth in tradition and spirituality.