Virginia Woolf is a British writer born in 1882 and she died a horrific death in 1941. She jumped unto River Ouse wearing an overcoat filled with rocks. She committed suicide as she was depressed and has a pessimistic feeling towards life due to a mental illness she has been cursed with. She wrote ‘The Death of the Moth’ in 1942. This essay contains a wide variety of rhetorical devices that makes it intriguing. Although the essay is short, she wrote a detailed story with an underlying metaphor. In this non-fictional essay, she effectively conveys her ideas through the use of figurative language.
She uses an extended metaphor in which the moth symbolizes humans in the way it lives its life. The essay entraps the reader into the outgoing struggle of our own mortality. Throughout the essay, the reader becomes aware of the tragedy that all life has to offer and that is the inevitable death. The theme is not lucid in the beginning. But in the latter part of the essay, one can deduce that the moth actually symbolizes humans and life. In the essay, she illustrates the struggle between life and death.
Her purpose in writing this passage is to depict how pathetic life is in the face of death, and to garner respect for the awesome power that death has over life. Throughout the essay, death is described from many different angles. The purpose of this is to remind us of the power that death has over life. She shows us the death is certain and unavoidable. She does not convey this message with logic, but with instead with emotions, feelings, and implicit ideas. She makes us feel the death of the moth to impart us a more complete understanding of the eternal power of death.
She uses several different types of figurative and literary language. As mentioned earlier, the essay is an extended metaphor. She used simile several times. For example, “… until it looked as if a vast net with thousands of black knots in it had been cast up into the air. ” In this simile, she describes a gathering of crows in the trees outside her window. In addition, she uses parallelism, which occurs when she writes: “That was all he could do, in spite of the size of the downs, the width of the sky, the far-off smoke of houses, and the romantic voice, now and then, of a steamer out at sea.
” A good example of hyperbole is present when the author describes: “One could only watch the extraordinary effort made by those tiny legs against an oncoming doom which could, had it chosen, have submerged an entire city, not merely a city, but masses of human beings… ” By using such a simple creature’s struggle against death as a metaphor, Woolf creates a beautiful essay on the fragility of life. Her simplicity and detail keeps her essay from becoming overcomplicated, overly dramatic, or depressing. It was a surprisingly light and meaningful essay on an event that most people would probably overlook.