Portrayal Of Theme Of Death In Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
The oxford dictionary states that death is the permanent end of all life functions in an organism or part of an organism. In the three poems I have studied, death is portrayed in a completely different way in each of the poems. Death be not proud, written by John Donne, death is portrayed in a sarcastic tone as he belittles death, whereas in Do not go gentle into that good night, Dylan Thomas tries to avoid death and please the person who is facing death to fight for his everlasting life on earth. In “The earths atomic death” E.S. Blumenthal explains the tragedy of the earths death as well as the process and consequence of death in this poem.
In the poem “Death be not proud” the poet belittles death in an ironic and sarcastic way. As John Donne is a metaphysical poet he proves that death has very little value and that death only serves as a pathway to eternal life. He represents death as a powerless figure which we should not be afraid of. Paradoxically he portrays death as “One short sleep past, we wake eternally // And death shall be no more: death, thou shalt die!” (lines 13-14) which is ironic because death cannot die. The paradox shows the effect of time and how the process of death is limited, he uses this figure of speech and that it is a catalyst to eternity. Therefore, people are not dependent on death, but rather death depends on man as stated in “Thou art slave to [Fate, Chance,] kings, and desperate men” (line 9). As is typical of a Petrarchan sonnet a solution is given in the sestet to prove that death is impotent. People are generally scared of dying, but in this poem Donne explains that if you look at the theory behind it as a Christian, death does not hold any power over man as it is only momentary because he will wake in eternity, therefore it is a persuasive way of explaining the powerlessness of death in certain religions.
Similarly, Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas reveals the angst caused by the thought of death, as he does not look further than death itself. He composes this poem while his father is dying and he urges him to fight for his life as he wants to spend more time with his father. “Rage, rage against the dying of the light” (lines 3,9,15,19) emphasises the negative diction “rage” which supports his anxiousness through kinaesthetic imagery. The paradox and pun seen in “dying light” appose the diction “rage”. The pun dying refers to the process of dusk coming to an end and the darkness of night taking over the universe, yet, at the same time it is synonymous to his father’s life ending. Therefore, the use the word “rage” is a call to action as Thomas does not know what lies beyond death. Dylan Thomas further names four different groups of people who all have a reason to fight for their lives and not just give in to death. He repeats the phrases “Rage, rage against the dying of the light” and “Do not go gentle into that good night” alternatively in stanza 1 to 5, however, in stanza 6 he combines them to a climax to reveal his desperation in trying to keep his father alive for as long as possible
Additionally, in the poem The earth’s atomic death E.S. Blumenthal explains the process and result of death which leads to a catastrophe for which man is responsible. Even tough E.S. Blumenthal reveals the signs that something ominous is brewing in the tension created by nature’s reaction to the human’s actions, no one reacts to it which leads to the tragic death of earth. The first stanza uses negative diction to support nature’s retaliation of its pending death. “swishing sounds of the sea // dark night of death” (lines 1-2) the sibilance which is used in the repetition of the “s” sound in line 1 produce an auditory image in the form of an onomatopoeia. Following this, the alliteration in “dark” and “death” creates a negative visual image which supports the dissident kinaesthetic imagery associated with “swishing”. The process of the earth’s death throughout the first stanza, followed by an important three-lined image in the next stanza to emphasise the quite before the storm as is it frozen in time. The last stanza reveals the consequence of mans destruction as Greek muse of tragedy, Melpomene, is singing a sarcastic song of praise to “man” and it creates auditory imagery. Man ignored the signs that the earth showed and that is what eventually led to the end of man.
In conclusion, everyone deals with death in a different way and approaches it differently depending on your beliefs. In the poems I have studied each poet has a distinctive view regarding death and the destruction it causes. It is ironic that God is in control of mans death, but man is in control of the earths death.
https://poemanalysis.com, Death, be not proud (Holy Sonnet 10) by John Donne. Written by Allisa Corfman
https://www.aresearchguide.com, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas.
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