The concern that human society will be inevitably obsessed with death is a valid one. Although there may be people today who escape depressing thoughts of death, all will be distraught after reading only a few lines of the Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias. This essay will analyze parts of the work by Federico Lorca and provide some basic interpretations and thoughts on the subject. Beginning with the first line of the lament, the reader is struck with an overwhelming sense of time—five in the afternoon. It fills the mind as the words continue. “It was exactly five in the afternoon.
” Ignacio has obviously died. The time of day is noted, and the question arises immediately: why repeat the time “five in the afternoon” after every line (up to five times)! I think the point of repeating the time excessively is to pound a feeling of monotony that accompanies utter grief into the mind of the reader. Also, it provides a broad scope to help the reader understand how many hopelessly depressing things are going on at once. A possible answer, then, is that the lament needs synchronization in order to deliver the correct emotions that Lorca felt.
For example, leaving out the repeated time, the first stanza becomes, “A boy brought the white sheet, A frail of lime ready prepared, The rest was death, and death alone. ” In this version, the reader feels like three mundane, somewhat depressing things are happening in sequence as opposed to feeling a horrifying realization of the simultaneous events surrounding the loss of a close friend. Without the repetition it may still seem sad, but nowhere near as powerful as the original. Adding the repetition back in, one feels as though time has been stopped during a metaphorical symphony of pain from grief.
As the horrible moment continues, Lorca adds additional imagery: “Groups of silence in the corners… A coffin on wheels is his bed… The room was iridescent with agony… In the distance the gangrene now comes… The wounds were burning like suns… at five in the afternoon. At five in the afternoon. Ah, that fatal five in the afternoon! It was five by all the clocks! It was five in the shade of the afternoon! ” It is no accident that we read of the time of day five times at the end of this section. Also, both of the first two stanzas contain five references to the time as well, almost suffocating us with the existence of the terrible hour.
Lorca perfectly displays the effect of death on the human mind. Cluttered with the details most ignored in regular life, our brains (perhaps as a self-defense to keep us alive) go through an almost physical withdrawal when those near to us die. In conclusion, It is obvious that our lives revolve around death whether we like it or not. Death is the nemesis of survival, and survival is our primary goal in life as humans. Reproduction, social reform, religion, or anything else we live for (even hedonism) must manifest itself through survival of ourselves or others. Thus, as long as we survive, humans will always be obsessed with death.
Courtney from Study Moose
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