Analysis of George Bernard Shaw's Letter

Categories: Personality

In this letter by George Bernard Shaw, the author conveys vivid detail that is emphasized about the death of his mother. Within this text, the author’s attitude towards his mother and her cremation is utilized by the use of diction, detail, and imagery that serves to express the authors feeling of sentimentality and rebirth from the enchanted tone he attributed his mother with.

Throughout the excerpt, the author begins his oration in an admirable tone. The author portrays his attitude towards his mother’s cremation as a positive outlook in life.

With the excessive usage of diction, the author describes what lies beyond the oven door of the crematory oven as “wonderful”, while other people sought it as horrifying to see it. Shaw describes the oven being “No roaring draught. No flame. No fuel.”; rather, with the appearance of “cool, clean, sunny” of the coffin. Shaw evokes a sense of diction that is viewed with full of life. The cremation is depicted as a “beautiful fire” like “pentecostal tongue” suggests the mother as a spirit ascending from the coffin with the rebirth of life itself.

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By the presentation of diction use with the mother being rebirthed with attribution of new life, the author’s attitude can be best described in a blissful manner.

Although Shaw describes the rebirth of his mother with the excessive usage of diction, he also attributes the cremation with vivid detail of imagery. Shaw’s usage of imagery with his mother’s cremation gives the reader an insight of the author’s attitude towards his mother.

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When Shaw describes the coffin of “streaming ribbons of garnet colored lovely flame, smokeless and eager, like pentecostal tongues”, his view of imagery suggests fire is a symbol of life and that there is a spirit ascending from the coffin.

Shaw also notes his “mother became that beautiful fire,” before the cook “swept her up into a sieve and shook her out: so that there was a heap of dust and a heap of bone straps,” makes the imagery that Shaw conveys to his mother as a spirit being humorous. What Shaw portrays through these details is that by the burning of his mother, the corpse is then observed full of energy and life itself, allowing her rebirth into a spiritual figure a mockery of flesh and bone. By the use of imagery, Shaw is trying to emphasize that the quality of the cremation makes it better compared to a burial.

Despite Shaw’s admirable and blissful attitude throughout his oration, there was detail among the letter that gives the reader a more insightful thought of the attitude portrayed to his mother and her cremation. When Shaw addresses “O grave, where is thy victory?”, it gives the reader the sense that the grave is provided only with death compared to the cremation that allows the spirit to somewhat escape the body and be set out as free, giving the crematory positive connotations. This puny detail shows the difference of the grave and crematory that gives an insightful attitude towards what the author is trying to convey about his mother and her crematory. In all, Shaw’s strange appreciation of the event attributes him with the recognition of victory of life over death from releasing the spirit of his mother through the fire of the crematory.

Updated: Dec 23, 2020
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Analysis of George Bernard Shaw's Letter. (2016, Dec 15). Retrieved from

Analysis of George Bernard Shaw's Letter essay
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