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In the book Death of a Moth written by Virginia Woolf, the writer compares death with the wonders of life. Woolf makes use of a moth as an example to champion this course by bringing out how easy life is while at the same time bringing out the simplicity of demise. Either, she goes further to bring out the want for readers to accept that the ultimate end of human existence is death. Even though people might battle throughout their life, they should accept that such struggles are critical in life. Annie Dillard, on the other hand, reflects on the first encounter she had with a wild weasel in her novel Living Like a Weasel. She presents a picture of a weasel and what makes it wild. This essay compares and contrasts the two books taking into account the various styles that the two writers have employed in each book.
The two writers give a different view of what life and death are in their respective books. In her book, Woolf does not describe to the readers what her immediate surrounding was. She just gives an outside description which in effect isolates her from her immediate environment (Woolf, page 3-16). By isolating herself from her environment, Woolf employs imagery as a stylistic device in her writing. She is not able to give an accurate account of the exact environment in her writing since she is not part of that environment. To this end, the writer tries to compare the environment in which the moth lives into the environment that we live in as human beings. This is opposed to that of Dillard who put herself within the environment that the weasel lives in. In her writing, Dillard becomes part and parcel of the environment she is describing and does not need to imagine what it could be compared to the environment we live in as human beings.
Either, Dillard has broken her writing into parts that she is able to connect through various stylistic devices as opposed to Woolf whose writing has no parts but still flows freely (Dillard, page 4-23). Both writers employ the usage of description when talking about the insects in their books. Dillard gives a detailed description of a weasel’s character and life when she says that it can bite and never let go. To this end, she talks about the tenacity of an animal that is considered weak and small in size. On the other hand, even though Woolf is not part of the moth’s environment, she is able to give an imagined description of its life. She goes further and puts the moth in a position that it actually represents the life of a human being.
Dillard takes an interest in the animal she uses to represent the life of a human being. In her book, she alludes to the fact that she has been reading about the weasel ever since she heard of it (Dillard, page 5-21). This is far much different from the case of Woolf who appears not interested much on the animal she uses to represent the life of a human being. At no time in her writing is it alluded to the fact that she did some research on the moth. This is further illustrated by the fact that she does not want to be part of the moth’s environment as opposed to Dillard who is part of the weasel’s environment. Despite the many contrasts between the two writers, there are some similarities in the manner in which they went about their writing.
The first similarity is the style used to narrate the two stories whereby the two books appear an autobiography each. The stories are told by the writers themselves and not third parties (Woolf & Andrew, page 2-10). This makes the two writers give a first-hand account of their stories without running the risk of distortion by a third party making the whole story lose its meaning. Another similarity between the two writers is in the theme of their books. There are other themes but the main one is the mystery that is presented by death. Either, the two writers correspond the lives of both the weasel and the moth to the life of the human being. The two writers develop various images in their writing that are interesting to the readers. The images create an appeal in the readers’ minds making them yearn for more while at the same time the writers give vital lessons to their readers concerning their lives.
Of essence is the teaching that the most important thing in life that everyone has to ensure that they have is energy. There are a number of lights that we witness in life that always represent the energy we have (Woolf & Andrew, page 3-11). The two writers talk about a number of qualities in their writings. Through the lives of both the weasel and the moth, the writers show some effort on the part of the two animals. As much as the animals are considered small in size and weak in absolute strength, they were able to soldier on until that time they were taken away by death. Through this symbolism, the writers teach us that no matter what happens in life people must always try as much as they can without giving up easily. The writers put it categorically that if one is meant to die at any given time they will actually die. But the thought of death should not deny any person an opportunity to strive for excellence in anything they strive to achieve.
Dillard, Annie. "Living Like Weasels." One Hundred Great Essays (1982).
Woolf, Virginia. The Death Of The Moth And Other Essays. Vol. 294. Harcourt On Demand, 1974.
Woolf, Virginia, And Andrew Mcneillie. The Essays Of Virginia Woolf: 1919-1924. Vol. 3. Harcourt, 1986.
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