Get help from the best in academic writing.

Comparing the Stars of Bright Star and Choose Something Like a Star

Comparing the Stars of Bright Star and Choose Something Like a Star

Keats “Bright Star” and Frost’s “Choose Something Like a Star” although similar in their address to a star differ in form, tone and theme. The latter contains an illusion to the former that brings Keats’ themes into the poem. In order to compare these poems it is necessary to look carefully at their themes and constructions. “Bright Star” is a sonnet in traditional iambic pentameter. Its tone is elegiac as it celebrates the woman’s beauty and his love for her in his plea for steadfastness. The poem opens with an apostrophe to the star which calls our attention to his plea. The verbs “would” and “were” indicate his wish to be like the star whom he addresses as “thou.” The star is “hung” in the night, a pleasant image, and he uses a simile to compare it with Eremite, a hermit, who presumably sat apart from the world watching. The eyelids of this star (the star is given anthropomorphic qualities) are eternally apart — always watching, “patiently” and “sleeplessly.” Keats then enumerates what this star watches. It watches water — which is also steadfast as indicated by the comparison “priest-like.” The waters that surround the land Keats says are performing ablutions or cleansings and blessings on the land. The star also gazes upon the snow. He uses the metaphor of snow as a “mask” (more personification) as it hides the mountains and moors. The “m” alliteration emphasizes the falling of the snow. The repetition of “of” underlines the parallel structure and idea of the two scenes the star regards. The rhythm of this 2nd quatrain is slow and peaceful like the scene. Then Keats puts a “No — ” w…

… middle of paper …

…t not only continues the “poetic tradition” but adds all the depth of meaning of Keats’ poem to his own. The star doesn’t want much of us — only to stay above us. He says that “when the mob is swayed” or when social, political, or moral upheaval takes place and the norm is to be radical, the star likes being above it all, condescendingly regarding the earth. When this happens, we should “choose something like a star” and concentrate on it. In the final line the similarity between “stay” and “staid” emphasizes that we must emulate the star in being constant and moderate while society may revolve around us in social or political turmoil. This “staidness” is our key to survival like the stars’.

Therefore, one can see that these poems although similar in their title and central image of the star differ in their themes, form and treatment of the author’s ideas.

Futility of Life in The Death of Ivan Ilyich

Futility of Life in The Death of Ivan Ilyich

Count Leo Tolstoy is considered Russia’s greatest novelist and one of its most influential moral philosophers. As such, he is also one of the most complex individuals for historians of literature to deal with. His early work sought to replace romanticized glory with realistic views. A good example of this is the way he often portrayed battle as an unglamorous act performed by ordinary men. After his marriage, though, Tolstoy started to reexamine his attitudes towards life, especially his moral, social, and educational beliefs (Shepherd 401). Many commentators agree that Tolstoy’s early study of the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau encouraged his rebellious attitude. This new deep-seated dissatisfaction with himself and a long frustrated search for meaning in life, however, led to the crisis Tolstoy described in his Confession and Memoirs of a Madman. In these works he formulated a doctrine to live by based on universal love, forgiveness, and simplicity (Valente 127). Simplicity and the moral importance of leading a simple life, for Tolstoy, became the only true way to live a spiritually fulfilled life. After arriving at his doctrine of universal love and simplicity, Tolstoy at first refrained from writing fiction. He even renounced much of his earlier work as too complex and not morally uplifting. Nevertheless, because of Tolstoy’s earnest commitment to the view of literary art as a means for bringing important truths to the attention of the reader, he returned to imaginative literature and wrote The Death of Ivan Ilyich to emphasize the message that simple life is best.

Tolstoy’s life led him into all kinds of contradictions–sometimes he believed in fighting, s…

… middle of paper …

… (qtd, in Jahn 20). It becomes clear then that Ivan Ilyich is brought to a re-evaluation of his past life; that the ending is not just a contrived means of closure, but a miraculous conversion of the dying Ivan Ilyich and his important discovery concerning the moral consequence of living a simple and honest life.

Works Cited

Gifford, Henry. Tolstoy. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1982.

Jahn, Gary R. The Death of Ivan Ilich: An Interpretation. New York: Twayne, 1992.

Rowe, William W. Leo Tolstoy. Boston: Twayne, 1986.

Shepherd, David. “Conversion, Reversion and Subversion in Tolstoi’s The Death of Ivan

Il’ich.” The Slavonic and East European Review 71.3 (1993): 401-16.

Valente, Luis Ferando. “Variations on the Kenotic Hero: Tolstoy’s Ivan Ilych and Guimaraes Rosa’s Augusto

Matraga.” Symposium 45.2 (1991): 126-38.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.