Comparison of Annie Dillard And Virginia Woolf's Perspectives On Death

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Comparison of Annie Dillard And Virginia Woolf's Perspectives On Death essay
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Death can be seen as many things it’s just a matter of perspective it can be a beautiful grim predetermined promise or an impending fear-inducing consequence of living, but whichever way you think of it, death is unstoppable. In Virginia Woolf’s “Death of the Moth” and Annie Dillard’s “Death of a Moth” both acclaimed writers take on the heavy subject that is death after separately witnessing the demise of moths, and while these two women write about the same conclusion their methods of style to portray their stories in describing death vary while holding onto similar concepts of life.

Virginia Woolf’s style is very desolate and observant in order to modify the way death is viewed in society, she uses her moth as symbolism to the humans races own struggle to defy death, as well as her own insignificance, while Annie Dillards, in turn, has a very blunt approach to describing death by using graphic morbid imagery and comparisons to appeal to one's selfs significance even beyond death. Both essays have distinct deeper meaning beyond their literal text which is emphasized by their choices of style such as by using metaphors, comparisons and detailed imagery, while both authors are equally intrigued by the deaths of their moths the purpose perceived by its death is different.

As they watch their separate moths die their own unique death the moths are noticeably embodying something much greater than its exact self. Woolf, for instance, her moth is a extended metaphor that is a representation of the human race as a whole specifically for its fear of imminent death which is is highlighted by the moths excessive futile attempts to remain alive. Stated on page 58 of “Death of the Moth” “This gigantic effort on the part of an insignificant little moth, against the power of such magnitude” Death is a huge motivator with such power that makes our lives meaningful because we try to cheat death only to be proven pointless in the end because even if we are complex creatures who think we understand death we are unable to live what is our time of life to the fullest because of our fear of death, that being said Woolf wants it so the human race honors and appreciates the art that is oncoming death instead of turning it into a punishment. In turn, Annie Dillard’s moth is meant to take on a more optimistic approach to life and death instead to focus on the pain and suffering.

In paragraph 1 of “Death of a Moth” Dillard states “There is a spider in the bathroom with whom I keep a sort of company” Highlighted at the beginning of this piece we are able to take in Dillard’s mindset as she instead of dwelling in the grief of her loneliness we are able to see her find the good in the situation, that being said that gives an early understanding of her perspective on life and death how glorious almost exciting journey that life is in her eyes and how our mark is left behind after death.

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Dillards moth’s death was blunt and grotesque she does not focus solely on the act of the moth dying she unsentimentally retells the gruesome details stating in paragraph 6 “At once the light contracted again and the moth’s wings vanished in a fine, foul smoke. At the same time, her six legs clawed, curled, blackened, and ceased, disappearing utterly. And her heaving mouth parts crackled.” This theatrical way of recounting the details allows it so the moth gory death stays with you effectively connecting the idea of how people need and want to find their purpose before they die so they too are remembered after death. The flame being used to ignite Dillard’s own passion in the world. At first, Woolf sees her moth as a pathetic entity that is unable to even compare to the importance of the bigger energy forces outside her window page 57 of “Death of the Moth” states “One, was, indeed, conscious of a queer feeling of pity for him” and that feeling of pity almost makes her try to rescue the moth until she too realizes that it is a hopeless action line on page 58 “It came to me that the failure and awkwardness were the approach of death. I laid the pencil down.”

When the doth finally surrenders on page 58 “death is stronger than I am” it accentuates that it was not the moths’ life or his ending that was important but it was his battle that made him worthy in life. In a much darker portrayal, the moth represents Woolf herself, particularly how she sees herself in her state of severe depression trying to find some strand of hope to continue on living what she believed was her insignificant life to which she and her moth both willingly succumb to death. That being said Dillard’s moth does not die as willingly as Woolf’s moth does in the end, instead, the moth fights and gains a new purpose acting as the second wick to the candle in paragraph 7 of “Death of a Moth” It states “That candle had two wicks, two flames of identical height, side by side.” which takes on the meaning of how Dillard is trying to revive her calling in life which is writing and inspire those around her to follow her ideas as well.

To fully bring to affect the meaning of the text both writers draw in the attention to their work by painting the tone and mood of their works. Woolf approaches her text with a melancholic tone of which she tries to down-play by using lighthearted pleasant language and phrases such as “That pleasant sense of dark autumn nights and ivy-blossom” “It was a pleasant morning, mid-September, mild, benignant” which comes across as an unenergetic distant front to the deep lonely thoughts encased in her mind that is slowly revealed as the story continues as she starts to use more negative connotative words like “pathetic” “pity “awkward” “Frail” “Stiff” and “Helplessness.” By uses her surroundings, a window, to take on the form of mental barrier separating the dark story unfolding in the said window to the vibrant life of the outside world. As she watches the moths’ life slowly fade it becomes evident that Woolf is romanticizing death and what it holds.

In using long sentences such as “As I looked at the dead moth, this minute wayside triumph of so great a force over so mean an antagonist filled me with wonder“ on page 58 Woolf is alluding to the long drawing out days of her depression along with dragging out the uncertainty as to when death will finally overtake the moth, in contrast, the short sentences such as “ the struggle was over“ and 'Death is stronger than I am' on page 58 mimick the unpredictability and suddenness that is death. While Woolf takes on a more noticeable pessimistic tone to her dark piece, Dillard has a more optimistic and hopeful tone watching in morbid fascination as she takes away the beauty in the otherwise gruesome scene.

Dillard speaks not directly to her audience but allows them to look into her thoughts and take in their own opinions on what she narrates. By using similes to fully create the scene In paragraph 6 “Like pistol fire” paragraph 7 “like any immolating monk” and “Like a flame-faced virgin gone to god” paragraph 8 “ in “Death of a Moth” we are able to see Dillard using expressive rhetoric in order

To conclude this analysis Virginia Woolf and Annie Dillard’s unique styles use rhetorical strategies in order to illustrate their own perspective on death and create the inevitability effect of death.

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The essay delves into the exploration of death through the lenses of Virginia Woolf's "Death of the Moth" and Annie Dillard's "Death of a Moth." Both essays scrutinize the demise of moths as metaphors for human existence and mortality. While the analysis captures the contrasting writing styles and thematic nuances of the two works, the essay's organization and coherence could be further refined for clarity. The writer adeptly highlights Woolf's use of symbolism and somber tone to examine the inevitability of death, as well as Dillard's graphic imagery and optimistic outlook. Additionally, the emphasis on rhetorical strategies used by both authors adds depth to the analysis. However, the essay could benefit from stronger introductory and concluding paragraphs to frame the analysis effectively.
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What can be improved
Introduction and Conclusion: Strengthen the introductory and concluding paragraphs to provide clearer context for the analysis and effectively summarize the key points made. Coherence and Organization: Enhance the overall structure of the essay, ensuring that ideas flow logically and are effectively connected to each other. Proofreading: Address grammatical and punctuation errors to improve the overall readability and coherence of the essay. Thematic Exploration: Expand on the examination of the deeper thematic implications of death presented in both essays, connecting them to broader philosophical and existential discussions. Quotation Integration: Provide more detailed analysis when quoting specific lines from the essays, demonstrating a deeper understanding of their significance within the context of the analysis.
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