In Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night,” he depicts the inevitability of death through repetition and diction. Furthermore, he portrays the stages of man’s life in his comparison to “good men, “wild men,” and grave men.” Finally, Thomas’ medium of poetic expression presents itself in the villanelle. The villanelle’s persona speaks in this poem as the son of a dying father. Line sixteen states “And you, my father,” and this proves the speaker’s persona. The old man, at his deathbed, receives encouragement with pleads from his son to hold on to life. In the last stanza, the son as well as the father accepts death as merely a part of living. Furthermore, the repetitious last lines serve to strengthen the speaker’s thoughts. In the first, third, and fifth stanzas, the last lines match each other; in the second and fourth stanzas, the final lines match. The final stanza combines the last lines from the odd and even-numbered stanzas for an additional line. This portrays the ongoing war between life and death. The old man went back and forth between life and death as the stanzas’ last lines switched back and forth. In the end, the two last lines join together as the old man and his son accept that death is a part of life. Next, the references to “good men,” “wild men,” and “grave men” display the three basic stages of life: birth, life, and death. In stanza three, the stanza pertaining to “good men,” the portion “the last wave by” depicts the old man’s generation as fewer and fewer still live. The color symbolism of the “green bay” lets us know that the speaker refers to the young and new generation of yesterday. Stanza four’s reference to “wild men” concerns the living part of life. It reveals the fact that men often learn too late to change their actions. The fifth stanza depicts the dying part of life in which the senses deteriorate. How the speaker depicts that “Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay” refers to the bright light many often reported seeing in near-death experiences. The blind may once again see this sign that death knocks on one’s door. In the line “Do not go gentle into that good night,” the speaker refers to the night as good. Night replaces death in a metaphoric manner. The reference to that “good night” displays how good death may appear and how easily one attains it. This shows the reason the speaker persists for his father to hold on to life and not “go gentle into that good night.” Likewise, to “rage against the dying of the light” as the speaker pleads shows a similar appeal by the son. The dying of the light refers to life as a light that shines to prove existence. If the light dies, then the life has ceased to exist. This poem, in villanelle form, artfully implies the universal theme of death’s inevitability. The son’s pleads to his father and the father’s pleads with death show conflicts that may arise in one at his deathbed. This man, the grave man, finishes the remainder of his life. From the stages of his life, hefinally reaches this one. The poem ends ambiguously hinting the acceptance of death by the father and the son.
The Theme of War in Fool’s Sanctuary
The Theme of War in Fool’s Sanctuary
One of the themes that Jennifer Johnston deals with in her book Fool’s Sanctuary is war. Within this theme she looks at how people view war, and how war affects different people. In this book Johnston shows the war in a bad light. Miranda, Mr. Martin and Cathal all support the IRA, or believed in a “free” Ireland and all lost something important to them. Andrew and Harry who were fighting against the IRA , and thought that Ireland should not be free had nothing that was very important to them taken away. Although Andrew was basically unable to visit his immediate family again he had not done so in years before, and in this visit where the story takes place he had arguments with his father, Miranda said that he should not have come, and he himself said that he hated Ternon.
Cathal is the most rational character at Ternon. Unlike the other characters he sees things for what they are and does not try to hide from the mistakes he does not want to face up to. The main fault in his character lies in the way the he does not always think ahead, or at least not until it is too late. This is shown when he comes back from telling the IRA about Andrew and Harry staying at Ternon and stands outside thinking about whether or not he should tell them what he has done.
In the end Cathal owned up to his mistake. As well as showing his strong conscience it also showed that he does not let emotions influence his judgement and values. While standing out in the rain he was Harry comforting Miranda. He could well have taken this as being something more than what it was and let the IRA come and kill Andrew and Harry. Cathal’s conscience is shown to be really strong, and it is the reason that he was able to give up his life.
The way that Cathal changed his mind about what was the right thing to do shows the irrationality of the war. Cathal supports the war strongly enough to be a member of the IRA, and it was this loyalty that led him to tell them about Andrew and Harry. When he changed his mind and told Andrew and Harry about what he had done it showed Cathal’s love for people.