Do not go Gentle into that Good Night
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“Do not go Gentle into that Good Night” is an emotional poem written in lyric style by Dylan Thomas. In this poem, Dylan expresses his feelings and thoughts concerning death and the significance of fighting to live life to the fullest. The poem expresses varied views regarding death from diverse individuals who all fight to hold on to life. This poem employs various literary styles to communicate to the reader. The aim of this paper is to analyze character, theme(s), and symbolism as literary tools used by the author.
This poem is written at a personal level, and the writer introduces to the reader only one character, his father. He uses his father to express his general feeling about men and what they can achieve in life. Thomas believes that virtuous men are capable of struggling to see the light. He also talks of wild men running to catch the light; however, they do not realize that it is the last moment they are seeing the light. He further says that grave men are happy and unlikely to see the light. Dylan Thomas says that if men choose to die such a death, then this is the happiest death ever, and since they are unable to apprehend that it is death, so it becomes easier. The writer also classified other people, but with an expressive feeling about his own father.
Notably in the first stanza, Thomas watches his father suffering. The first and the third line of the poem undoubtedly inform the reader how emotional Thomas is about his father. Both these lines express powerful emotional feelings of the writer. He is informing his father not to go gentle to put up a fight. However, the truth regarding death and age is reflected in the third line. The message being communicated to the reader is that all individual are bound to grow old and ultimately face death. Thewriter believes that men, for example his father, understands that giving is to all men. In that regard, he explains how the light belonging to wise men is longer surrounded by their world. This is clearly indicated from stanza two to five of the poem. The writer believes that those human beings need this light to stay on this earth. In the final stanza, the writer encourages everyone to live their life to the fullest but strive not to give up too easily. Thomas is asking his father not to fight death.
The Theme of Grief and Death
In the poem “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night,” death has a peculiar meaning to the writer. The theme of the poem is introduced in the first tercet. Even though the first as well as the third lines of the poem state the basic theme of death resistance, they are contrary to some extent. Every predominant word in the first line is downright opposite to the third line. For example, the word “Gentle” is contrasted yet paired with the word “rage,” “good” is paired with “bad” and “dying,” and “night” goes together with “light.” Besides, both lines have dissimilar tone. The verbs that are used are straightforward and vague. The writer employed a predictive adjective “gentle,” which gave a description of a personality, rather than the adverb “gentle” that would modify the verb.
The writer also paradoxically talks of “good night” to mean “good death.” As much as the line sounds like a call to resist death, the entire tone of the line is gentle. In the beginning of the third line, when the author talks of “rage,” he refers to the fierce resistance to death. In line two, Thomas gives an advice to the people who fear death. The notion about burning is usually associated with youthfulness; however, the writer also wants the elder people to fight passionately for their lives. The “close of the day” is somehow related to the phrase “good night” mentioned in the previous line. In the other four stanzas, the writer provides a vivid description of four types of elders. In his explanation, he affirms that death is coming nearer.
Symbolism in the Poem
From the onset, the poet refers to “that good night;” and as the poem moves on and on, we see one sunset after another and one nightfall after another. The symbolism we see in this case is that the sun appears and speeds out of sight so quickly. To the writer, darkness preoccupies his mind more than light. Beginning with the first line, there is an extended metaphor in which day symbolizes life, night symbolizes afterlife, and sunset signifies the moment of death. Throughout the poem, the introduction of dark, nightfall, and the final lingering light of the evening inform the reader on how easily and unavoidably life slips away from human beings. In lines one through three, the author employs the use of an apostrophe to point out the person who the speaker is talking to. Moreover, repetition of the word “rage” is employed mainly to emphasize the theme of the poem. Finally, the writer uses extended metaphors, wherein day stands for a life cycle and the sun symbolizes all that is beautiful, astonishing, and marvelous in the world.
The poet has used various stylistic devices of literature to send varied messages to the reader. This analysis has covered the symbolism, main character, and the theme of the poem. Thomas’ poem is an inspiration to everyone who understands the significance of life and inevitability of death. The poet writes this emotional poem to express his personal feeling about his and the relationship of old age and death.