Last Updated 10 Mar 2020

Thantopsis and the Road Theme Death

Category Road
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AP English Period 5 William Bryant uses imagery of Nature’s beauty to create a theme that death is beautiful and serene, while Cormac McCarthy uses imagery darkness and dead things to create a theme that death is scary and dark. Bryant’s perception of death shows that it is interconnected with nature at which it is a life cycle. He shows us a different perspective on how death is. His use of creative imagery of nature to death creates the theme of death being not as bad as it seems. McCarthy’s view of death differs from Bryant’s view.

McCarthy uses a post-apocalyptic world where nature is dead to support the theme that death is horrible. Both authors use imagery to show the relationship between life and death to create themes opposite of each other. In Thanatopsis, the author shows the theme about death by comparing it to nature’s beauty. Most people see death as horrible, but Bryant shows an in-depth meaning to it. The poem starts off by personifying nature as a beautiful female, “…and a smile and eloquence of beauty” (Lines 4-5), who will always be there for you to make you feel better, “Into his darker musings, with a mild and healing sympathy. (Lines 6-8) The poem takes a shift and talks about how death feels like “Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall and breathless darkness, and the narrow house,” (Lines 11-12) and the idea of being in pain in a dark coffin. The poem continues going back and forth on nature’s beauty and death, and soon connects it back to the theme. “Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again, (Line 23)” shows that after death is another phase of life itself, and we will return to be one with nature. Our dead decomposing bodies will be mixed in with nature, “Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould. Line 30)” Bryant compares nature to a coffin, “Are but the solemn decorations all of the great tomb of man. ” (Line 44-45), to show the coffins of dead people created nature’s beauty, the valleys, hills, rivers. Bryant leaves a message to the living that death, the great equalizer, is inevitable and everyone will die eventually, “The youth… gray-headed man. ”(Line 68-70) He then continues on telling the message that you only live once, so live your life to your full potential, “So Live,” (Line 73) and be aware that death will eventually come “with a blanket around him and getting ready for a happy, dream-filled sleep,” (Line 80-81).

You will not go to death alone. Everyone who has ever died will already be there. Everyone who hasn't gone yet will be there eventually. Bryant connects nature with death because it’s with all the death that Mother Nature’s beauty was created, and as you become one with nature. In The Road, McCarthy makes death a darker and scary theme. Since the beginning to the end of the book, McCarthy uses imagery to show that death is horrible. As the father and son are on the road, the father describes everything he sees He tells detail imagery on the dead trees, no colors, ash; abandon man-made objects, like buildings and trains, and others.

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Every living thing in the world is dead, so they savage what they can from abandon houses to keep themselves from starving, and freezing to death. There is a constant fear of dying from the boy, “Are we going to die? Sometime. Not Now,” (Page 10) but the father knows that they are going to die, but not now. The Father and son are out in an unforgiving, dangerous world where even the slightest misstep could lead to death, so they keep on moving. All they see is death, “Inside the barn three bodies hanging from the rafters, dried and dusty,” (Page 16) as they move.

The boy has seen so much death in his short life that he learns to accept it and understand that death is here. The father is only living because of the son, and it is his responsibility to find him a safe place, as the son is only living for his father. The boy said, “I wish I was with my mom,” because he wishes to be dead like his mother. The first death that both the father and son witness was his mother death. The mother didn’t want to live anymore because she couldn’t face the world as it is filled with cannibals and murderers, “they are going to rape us and kill us and eat us and you won’t face it.

You’d rather wait for it to happen. But I can’t. ” (p. 58). The father and son are always on the move because of the fear that they will be eaten by cannibals. In the mansion, the father opened up the room, and saw living humans held captive to be food for the cannibals. The father and son saw a beheaded, gutted out, baby over a fire when they were starving for food (Page 199). Death is everywhere in The Road. They are always on the constant move so they can run away from death by finding food and warmth, while hiding from the cannibals.

Both works of literature gives a clear relationship between life and death. McCarthy shows imagery that describes that death is horrible. The constant running to find what they can to eat while hiding from cannibals show that death is at the door, and it is only a matter of time before they die. Bryant’s imagery of death is more serene and beautiful. He gave a lighter and happier tone on death and how death shouldn’t not be feared, and live your life. Both McCarthy and Bryant uses imagery to show death as a beauty or scary.

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