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An Explication of Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

An Explication of Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

In this poem Thomas makes a very personal appeal to his father as the latter approaches death. He pleads with him not just to surrender to death but to fight death as long as possible. His plea also becomes universal as Thomas addresses also all other people approaching death, not to accept death as inevitable, but rather to fight against dying. Whether men have been strong or weak throughout their lives, they should still make a stand at the end. Different men approach death in different ways, but no matter what their approach, they should fight against loss itself.

Stanza analysis

Stanza 1

Line 1 is a repetition of the title of the poem – a line which is repeated four times in the poem. The repetition is functional as it emphasises the theme of the poem: not to accept death without fighting it as long as possible. In stanza 1 three different phrases are used to denote the idea of death namely good night; close of day and dying of light. The poet is very defiant: he emphasises the fact that man must fight.

In this stanza the emphasis is on elderly people, ” Old age” (line 2). Even elderly people, his father in particular, must not just accept the coming of death gently, but they should still fight it. Also note the contrast between “night” and “light”, the rhyme words in stanza 1. Man is entering the night and leaving the light.

Stanza 2

In this stanza the emphasis is on ” wise men” (line4). Wise people as they approach death, they realise death is something that cannot be avoided: “know dark is right” (line 4).They regret death because they feel their words have not been good enough to light up the lives of others; their opportunity to m…

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…ven a hint of what might have been.

This is no more than a fleeting glimpse, just as a meteor that shines for a moment and then is gone.” Blinding sight” is an example of oxymoron which is a combination of contradictory words placed side by side but which intensifies rather than detracts from the point to be made. Also note the contradiction in the simile ” Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay”.

Stanza 6

In this stanza the emphasis is on the poet’s father. It is important to him that his own father resists death with all the strength available to him. “sad height” refers to his old age. His father is asked to shed ” fierce tears” in order to give himself a chance of a few more days/ months/ years of life.

The theme of the poem lies in the final two lines:

” Do not go gentle into that good night

Rage, rage against the dying of light.”

Violations of the True Woman in The Coquette

Violations of the True Woman in The Coquette

In her article, “The Cult of True Womanhood: 1820-1860,” Barbara Welter discusses the nineteenth-century ideal of the perfect woman. She asserts that “the attributes of True Womanhood . . . could be divided into four cardinal virtues-piety, purity, submissiveness and domesticity.” Furthermore, she adds that “if anyone, male or female, dared to tamper with the complex virtues which made up True Womanhood, he was damned immediately as an enemy of God, of civilization and of the Republic” (Welter 152). In Hannah W. Foster’s The Coquette, the characters Major Sanford and Eliza Wharton violate True Womanhood condemning them both to wretched fates.

Major Sanford continually violates the True Womanhood with his systematic seduction of women. Due to his assaults against female purity, Major Sanford is rejected by society for being devoid of virtue. Well aware of this reputation, Mrs. Richman warns Eliza that he is a “professed libertine” and is not to be admitted into “virtuous society” (Foster 20). Upon her acquaintance with him, her friend Lucy Freeman declares, “I look upon the vicious habits, and abandoned character of Major Sanford, to have more pernicious effects on society, than the perpetrations of the robber and the assassin” (Foster 63). Major Sanford’s licentious past dooms him to a future of lechery; there is no possibility for him to evade his reputation.

Eliza’s assaults against True Womanhood are violations of the virtues submissiveness and purity. When Eliza refuses to ignore the gallantry of Major Sanford in favor of the proposals of Reverend Boyer despite the warnings of her friends and mother, she disregards submissiveness in favor of her own fanc…

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…ind of happiness” (Foster 166). In the end, both are severely punished for their debasement of the True Woman.

One might question if Eliza really had any choice in her situation. Early in the novel she declares, “What a pity . . . that the graces and virtues are not oftner united!” (Foster 22). While Sanford possessed all the suavity she desired and Reverend Boyer all the integrity, she could find no companion who possessed both. This lack of options seems to be what truly destroys Eliza. It may have been within Eliza’s power to be a True Woman, but due to the societal constraints imposed upon her, it does not seem at all possible for her to have been a happy woman.

Works Cited

Foster, Hannah W. The Coquette. New York: Oxford UP, 1986.

Welter, Barbara. “The Cult of True Womanhood: 1820-1860.” American Quarterly. Vol. 18 (1966). 151-74.

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