Symbolism In Virginia Woolf's Death Of The Moth

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In her essay, Death of the Moth, the acclaimed English woman-of-letters, Virginia Woolf, fills the spaces between the lines with Pathos, be it from the fecundity of her words to the philosophical arguments evoked by her subject matter. These dramatic attributes, however, do not prove to be antithetical to the core tenets of her thesis. While abstract—as Woolf predominantly is—the essay portrays a world replete with life and death symbolism, centered on the strenuous last moments of a moth’s life. This curious endeavour is the main catalyst for the viewer, shall she give it (the moth) a moment of humanity just before its death, or rather, let it be and allow its death to occur without hindrance? This internal debate is contrasted with the morning …show more content…
There are numerous scenes, such as the “plough… scoring the fields,” or the “rooks… soaring round the tree tops… as if [they were] a net.” These successive images describe a sort of trinity of life’s occurrences and set the base mood for the essay (Woolf 575). Creating a feeling of resplendence, yet when the moth is introduced, it seems to be an intruder upon her and the mood clearly shifts to solitary contemplation. Initially, Woolf sees the insect as having a “content” demeanor as she watches him joyously flying about the window. She then starts to feel pity for him, a “queer” pity as she called it, since it is on this day the moth’s “hard” fate was known, that being an approaching death. Despite that she continues to let herself be beguiled by his mortality. Thus, those earlier images of the outdoors distinctly feel outside her influence; they no longer matter since her attention is now drawn away from it. Inside she is working, instance, being an observer of the world. This moth—a living specimen of this ‘concentrated’ life—comes into her view and attaches itself to the window, but, “he was little or nothing but life” (Woolf 576). Indeed, he is this life, freed of all worldly constraints of life that she, as the viewer and as a living person, knows well. The moth’s purpose was of …show more content…
Its struggle becoming a direct supplication to the reader since death is an innate fear shared by all living things. But Woolf does not simply fill her essay with emotional pleas—because basing an argument solely on them would be easily dismissive. Indeed, the moth’s struggle, and Woolf’s own, are deeply felt throughout the essay. Nevertheless, Woolf’s argument is what is most captivating. It connects the reader to her and allows them to trust her logic and conclusions of the moth and her own actions. For example, when the moth is dancing about the window, she considers that “there was something marvelous about him as well as pathetic… [as if showing] the true nature of life” (Woolf 576). Therefore, she relates this moth’s struggle to that of all living things and that the moth’s fate as well as hers are

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