O, Captain! My Captain! a Detailed Review
O Captain! My Captain
The ability to move a great people is a virtue lacked by many leaders. Mourning the death of such a leader is an even great task. Abraham Lincoln was an exception. In O Captain! My Captain, Walt Whitman metaphorically uses the image of a Captain to depict the respect, loyalty and love he and his countrymen felt for Abraham Lincoln.
For a Captain to lead his crew, he must have the respect of his crew. Abraham Lincoln had people behind him, people who would follow him boldly into any situation. The Captain in the poem had that respect. O Captain! My captain, our fearful trip is done. Whitman tells of a fearful trip, a trip only taken with someone respected and trusted. That trip was the Civil War. Lincoln was victorious in his struggle or as Whitman puts it, the price we sought was won. Rather than mourn for a death, people were prepared for celebrating Lincolns victory.
Whitman uses metaphors of bells and ribbond wreaths to show his loyalty towards Lincoln. Lincolns death was so sudden that it left the country in misbelief. There was an eagerness, a longing for his return, for you the shores a-crowding.
A man calling another man father is a sign of great love. A father is loved, respected, and should be shown loyalty from his children. When a parent dies, or anyone that is loved for that matter, it is not odd to really look at them after they die. A dead loved one will be buried and gone forever. Years of looking at smiles and expressions from that person will be all but a memory. Whitman looks at his Captain, his father. He examines his pale lips and his stillness in a kind of awkward silence.
In the last verse, Whitman begins to feel some true joy, joy in the remembrance of Lincoln. Though he feels pain, joy shines through. Whitman must remember that Lincoln was victorious, that there should be feelings of joy and triumphant power. Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells! these are strong words, empowering words. Expressions that should be felt if a leader was great. If a follower feels moved by a dead leader and feels as if he should continue on that leaders quest, than the leader has done a successful job.
Whitman accepts Lincolns death with dignity and sympathy for the nation. He uses sadness and happiness together gracefully while never losing the seriousness of the matter.
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