In literature, when the natural order becomes skewed, a character may die to restore order. Often, there is a savior who sacrifices his or her life so that other characters might live. In “Macbeth,” after the king is assassinated, the balance is disturbed. “The night has been unruly: where we lay, Our chimneys were blown down; and, as they say, Lamentings heard I’th’air; strange screams of death, And, prophesying with accents terrible Of dire combustion, and confus’d events, New hatch’d to th’ woeful time, the obscure bird Clamour’d the livelong night: some say, the earth Was feverous, and did shake.” (Act II/ Scene III/ lines 53-60). The king and rightful ruler of England was murdered and replaced by a dishonest, evil man who had no right to the throne. Because the order in the world was disturbed, nature will continue to wreak havoc until Macbeth dies. Lady Macduff explains to her son that a traitor is “one that swears and lies. Every one that does so is a traitor, and must be hang’d.” (Act IV/ Scene II/ lines 46, 48-49). Because he is a traitor to his country, Macbeth must die. In The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, Augustus is the savior. Augustus acts as a savior twice in the story when he sacrifices himself after a mutiny and an act of cannibalism have taken place. Through his death, Arthur and Dirk Peters will survive a mutiny and the destruction of their ship.
Augustus first saves his friends after a mutiny has occurred on his father’s boat. After hiding his friend, Arthur, on board their boat, Augustus and his father set sail from Nantucket. The plan was to hide Arthur on the ship for a few da…
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…ceptible, and the skin of his cheeks hung so loosely as to prevent his masticating any food, or even swallowing any liquid, without great difficulty…. About twelve o’clock he expired in strong convulsions, and without having spoken for several hours.”(Poe, 342-343). Because he was the savior, Augustus gave his own life in order to restore the balance and order of the world.
Like Macbeth, Augustus is the savior in The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym. One or more characters have disrupted the schedule and patterns in which nature operates. The savior is the character or characters who sacrifice their lives in order to return nature to her regular order.
Poe, Edgar A. Poe Selected Tales. Ed. Diane Johnson. New York: Literary Classics, 1991.
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Ed. Kenneth Muir. Ontario: Thomas Nelson
To His Coy Mistress Essay: The Carpe Diem Motif
The Carpe Diem Motif in To His Coy Mistress
“Seize the day.” For cavalier poets, there seemed to be little else they found nearly as interesting write about than the carpe diem concept. The form of carpe diem poetry is generally consistent, almost to the point of being predictable. Though Andrew Marvell worked with the same concepts, his modifications to them were well-considered. In “To His Coy Mistress,” Marvell makes use of allusion, metaphor, and grand imagery in order to convey a mood of majestic endurance and innovatively explicate the carpe diem motif.
Previous carpe diem poems (such as those written by Robert Herrick at the same time period) often took an apostrophic form and style which stressed the temporality of youth. The logical extension was to urge the recipient of the poem to take advantage of that youth to further her relationship with the narrator. They were often dark and melancholy in theme, underneath a light exterior of euphony and springtime images (perhaps to urge consideration of the winter to come).
Marvell chooses not to employ many of these techniques in the opening of “To His Coy Mistress.” Instead, his images and tools stress how he wishes his love to be- tranquil and drawn out. Rather than beginning with a focus on the concept of death, he opens the poem with the lines, “Had we but world enough, and time / This coyness, lady, were no crime” (ll. 1-2) He will later take on the trappings of the carpe diem poem, but his focus will then be on the grandeur and passion of love, rather than its instability.
To begin to slow the passage of time in his poem, Marvell makes reference to past and future events on a grand scale. His allusions to religious scriptur…
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…it becomes easy to say “death is coming, so we should love” without any particular impact behind the thought. Now, by contrasting the alternative to love caught in time, Marvell demonifies time to be a tyrant, slowly killing us all. He then states that an escape from and method of fighting against time is to love with a passion and defy his aging effect (ll. 40-46).
By rethinking the carpe diem theme, Andrew Marvell makes his point more effectively than many other poets working with the same ideas. Using the methods described above, he makes the ideal scene of timelessness more concrete, so that when it is swept away the alternative seems all the more frightening and imperative. In this way he recreates a feature of real life- death is imperative, but trivialities can often make it seem distant. Invariably, however, it will greet us all.