In “Transfiguration”

In “Transfiguration”, by Annie Dillard, one of the themes present is death. The theme of death is also present in “The Death of the Moth”, by Virginia Woolf. In both of the works, the idea of death is looked at in two very different ways. Dillard looks at death in a positive way, as a beautiful concept, while Woolf looks at death as an intimidating, powerful concept. In “The Death of the Moth”, the moth repeatedly tries to escape to the outdoors. It seems energetic and happy, but the moth quickly becomes a victim of death. Death uses its strong power and kills the struggling moth. Woolf’s view on death is also shown through her tone. The tone of the essay shifts dramatically from the beginning to the end. In the beginning of the essay, Woolf’s tone is more uplifting and happy. She uses words such as “pleasant”, “mild”, and “vital”. As the essay progresses her tone shifts to become more dark and upsetting. She uses words such as “failure”, “doom”, and “struggled” to create this dreary mood towards the end of the essay. In “Transfiguration”, Dillard’s tone also puts forth a dark, painful tone. Dillard uses words such as “corpses”, “ragged”, “hiss”, and “clawed”. Woolf describes death as something that will kill all forms of life. By giving this description, death is seen as one of the most powerful things in the world. Dillard says, “When people leave I never blow the candles out, and after I’m asleep they flame and burn.” By saying this, she shows that she sees some beauty and positivity in death. When someone dies, Dillard does not “blow the candles out”, meaning she does not forget about the person or become upset about their death. She says “they flame and burn”, which means the memories of the person who has died will always be there and she will try to make the most out of the memories. She may also be looking on the positive side by thinking about all of the services that will be held for the person and all of the people who will be keeping the person in their thoughts. In “The Death of the Moth”, Woolf says, “It is far harder to kill a phantom than a reality.” This quote shows how powerful Woolf believes death really is. She believes that it is such a powerful force, that it is much harder to get rid of than a reality is. Woolf also says, “Just as life had been strange a few minutes before, so death was now as strange. The moth having righted himself now lay most decently and uncomplainingly composed. O yes, he seemed to say, death is stronger than I am.” In this quote Woolf is explaining how once the moth is dead, it is almost as if it admits to defeat, saying that death is stronger than the moth himself is. These two pieces of writing deal with the same theme, death, but look at it in very different ways.

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I'm Barry!

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