Virginia Woolf has introduced a fascinating concept to an exceptional piece of literature in which she used 'Life and Death' as the central theme, presented in the context of a novel about the death of a moth. This essay provides a first-person perspective whereby the author observes the attempt of the moth to flee from her window before death inevitably arrived and took its life.
The Moth's Death exposes a world full of ordinary objects: sunlight, the moth, men, rooks, downs, etc. Nevertheless, the bond between them is exceptional. This world's center is stuck on a moribund moth, and every other thing is the background. They're here to witness the moth's demise and compare it. Life and death have transformed in a blink in this universe, and this cycle of death is revealed in a simplified way, attacking the comfortable and quiet life of us readers. Woolf had mental illness throughout her life. She generally used personification in this essay. She regarded herself as the moth.
She showed that death was unavoidable by compressing the human lifespan into the daily life of a hay-colored moth. While living creatures continue to battle the "coming doom" due to "the real meaning of life," any attempt toward "the force" must eventually fail. All through the essay, you can identify the emotional thoughts of the speaker regarding her world, and immediately she saw the moth, she understands it as an acutely malnourished creature, living its life to its utmost, stretching and expanding its limits as it flies about. Then the speaker realizes that the moth is an existence symbol while she proceeds to contemplate and indulge in her own emotions, as it says, "He was little or nothing except life."
The speaker illustrates a moth's existence by life itself, although she soon laments that the moth is just a rotund creature unable to create a difference in this massive universe, so it isn't beneficial. However, the fascination with life for the speaker is genuinely impressive, with the way she values her environment and the elegance behind them.
Astonishingly, Woolf built a window dividing both her and the moth from the outside environment. She wrote about the enjoyable summer mornings, the vigor influenced by everything outside. The strong scent of the air, the early activity in the field, the rooks' "vociferation and utmost clamor" all joined to give us this vitality scene. She also decided to write on purpose a lot of useful, significant, and essential things like the horses, scoring plough, the rooks, the ploughmen, etc. She intended foreshadowing the comparison between the moth and living beings outside: "That was all he was able to do, despite the size of the downs, the width of the sky, the far-off smoke of houses, and the romantic voice of a steamer out at sea now and then (Page 106 and 107)."The moth was pitiful in comparison with the world outside the window. The world was more significant than can be seen by the moth" (Page 107). The universe was more significant than can be seen by the moth. Compared to the "coming doom," however, even the large and powerful outside world was fragile and insignificant, let alone the little moth: as long as it chose, the oncoming doom could "submerge a whole city, not just a city, but masses of people; nothing, I knew, has any chance of death" (Page 108).
Inside the window, the world was different and individual from the outside world. Woolf wrote about the moth flying around the window, from corner to corner. The tininess of the moth was not its only problem, its life, although intense at that time, was somehow genuinely boring. Besides flying, there was nothing else left for it to do. Outside the window was a bright and colorful world, but like Woolf herself, the moth was kind of alone. The window became like a curtain that kept her away from living a positive and optimistic life. As she felt compassion for herself, she also felt pity for the moth. The moth finally resolved on the windowsill, perhaps because it was exhausted. Again, it wanted to fly but couldn't. This poor creature seemed to have been completely exhausted. It was uncomfortable with its struggle and movement. Several times it failed and fell on its back.
Death was crawling onto this poor, pathetic moth. Woolf tended to help it, but finally realized it was the death token. She understood that death was unavoidable, and so, therefore, accepted the fate of the moth. According to her thoughts, nothing can be done by people to stop the power of death. Consequently, she preferred not to meddle with the process of nature. The moth had a hard time, and she was touched by an extreme willingness to live. Its tiny legs fluttered over and over again. The last demonstration was a triumph, but the victory didn't save it from the cold hands of death. She repeated the word death six times in the final few sentences of the last paragraph, trying to stress that nothing can win the fight against death. Except for using repetition here that builds force, the whole passage attempted to avoid this. Synonyms such as sympathy, pathetic, and pity were seen frequently in her words, even fate, power, death, failure, oncoming doom, vainly, futile, hopelessness, useless, etc.
According to her, “it was superb this last protest,” “one's sympathies, of the cause, were all on the side of life,” “moved one strangely,” etc., we can see that Woolf admired, respected and praised the life (Page 108). So, throughout her article, she used personification. She's the moth, and the moth is she, fighting and struggling her whole life. Throughout her life, Virginia Woolf had a mental illness. She was very close to committing suicide when she penned down this essay. Like she said at the end of the essay, “death is stronger than I am,” she was tortured by her illness and wished an end (Page 108). The life of the moth is, in fact, her life. She compressed it into one day. Her life isn't exciting and colorful, like the world outside the window, but dull, plain, and boring. She had deep in her mind the same window. A barrier she could see the world through but doesn't mix in it.
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