Theme Of Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard

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Thomas Gray’s Steps to Immortality
Thomas Gray’s mournful poem “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” provides an elegy for the common man that is so often forgotten. However, this poem also serves as Gray’s instruction manual on how to come to terms with one’s own morality when all humans have a natural need for immortality. He establishes the effects that death and contemplations of death have on individuals and the hope that is to be found within such grim circumstances. In addition, he provides the resulting steps that should be taken in light of death’s effects in order to satisfy one’s craving for remembrance after death. Gray provides insight into death and how to deal with its inevitability, which applies to all men because everyone
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With the opening lines, the poet sets the tone of the poem: “The curfew tolls the knell of parting day… And leaves the world to darkness and to me” (Gray 1, 4). These lines convey the ever-present position death has in the speaker’s life. The toll of the bell is simply a reminder that death comes to all. These lines paired with the title of the poem reveals that the poet is having these contemplations about death alone. The significance of this is reinforced further on in the poem as the poet observes the graved in the churchyard: “Each in his narrow cell for ever laid, / The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep” (Gray 15-16). Gray’s first observation of death and its effects is that death brings isolation. Each man has to contemplate and come to terms with death alone, as the poet is doing, and the final end of life is something that has to be received and accepted by the victim alone as he is laid in his “narrow cell” alone. However this realization of death’s inevitable loneliness gives the reader a sense of hope in the unity that this observation provides: “The reader sees the world through the eyes of a single figure who is humankind, who sees the truth and sees the destiny of all. Yet each of the ‘rude forefathers’ represents humankind as well… Thus one has both the living, contemplating human destiny and death, and the dead, whose destiny is all too clear” (Davies). The reader receives two points of view, the voice from the living, which illustrates the musings upon death, and the voice from the dead, which illustrate the ultimate result of both life and death-centered musings. With this knowledge, this poem can be seen as an attempt to help its readers with death, an inevitability that people are usually left to deal with on their own without outside influence or direction. Therefore, Gray’s poem not only

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