It is a quiet room filled with people. Most of them have smiles on their faces. Some of them are even about to have a laughter or two. Is it easy to find such a room in a university? Yes. But is it easy to find such a room where people are holding a funeral in? Absolutely no. The masterpiece-eulogy by Margaret Atwood made it possible. That is right, I am talking about “The Great Communicator”(1999), the eulogy to Northrop Frye. Like every other eulogy, the main idea of the article is to describe how big the loss was to us upon Frye’s death.
Atwood gave numerous examples vividly in a relaxing tone, and those examples served as an entity, defining who Northrop Frye was. In the first paragraph, a typical lecture from Frye was described as “ in pure, lucid, eloquent, funny and engaging prose, for the space of an hour” (Margaret Atwood 1999 p. 85). Atwood said this because she wanted to show how great Frye’s lectures could be. Another decent example could be found in paragraph four. Atwood quoted from an apocryphal story about a conversation between a woman and Frye, who expressed the doubt from the woman that if there is anything Frye does not know (Atwood 1999).
And Frye told her that he does not know about Japanese flower arranging. But then he still managed to give pages of information about it (Atwood 1999). This example did not only made me laugh, but also made me realize how knowledgeable Frye was. There was also a fine example close to the end of the eulogy, in paragraph five, about once Frye had a wonderful chat with Atwood’s young daughter in her house (Atwood 1999). This was to explain that Frye was able to talk and enchant a six-year-old girl whereas he was known as a shy person.
With several more similar examples, Atwood successfully portrayed Frye’s professional, academic and personal lives. Although there were not particular topic sentences used in each paragraph, Margaret still gave a clear image on what she was trying to speak of. The thesis statement appeared at the end of the article. Margaret said that: “I think one of the sadness of his life was that he never had children. But there are many people, including some who never knew him personally, who will feel orphaned by his death (1999 p. 86)”.
This was said because she believed that the death of Frye was a loss to everyone, which was well demonstrated through the eulogy. This thesis statement also served as conclusion for the eulogy. However, except this statement, everything in the eulogy was examples and descriptions of Frye’s life. Those vivid stories came in a certain order, which was professional, academic and personal. By writing in this order, Atwood was able to reveal multiple aspects of Frye. Thus, Frye became real and lively to readers who did not know him personally.
What is worth mentioning, Atwood used a clear attention grabber at the beginning of the eulogy. She recalled the first time when she and Frye met. Such attention grabber draws reader’s attention easily and truly made reader want to continue reading. “The Great Communicator” (Atwood 1999) is a valuable lesson to me. There is no such thing as “championship” in literature. However, if there were one, “the Great Communicator” has to fall into the top list under category of eulogy. Its title drew my attention at first because I was wondering how great this communicator would be.
And the content was interesting enough, at the point where I just wanted to smile and yet not to laugh. Achieving this goal was quite a challenge for a eulogy. Nevertheless Atwood did it. The format of the article was not strictly according to usual essay structure. However, this format served even better than a usual one. It made the eulogy a pleasant experience for me. As well it made me truly feel the loss upon Frye’s death at the same time. Therefore, Atwood really gave me a valuable lesson on how to write a eulogy by delivering a masterpiece.
Courtney from Study Moose
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