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Uploaded by masone4718 on Nov 28, 2004

In literature as well as in life, people mainly hold two beliefs on death. On idea is that death is nothing to fear, as it sets you free in the afterlife, and the other idea is that it is the most fearful contemplation one can think of. In the poem “Death, Be Not Proud” by John Donne, the speaker scorns death and thinks nothing of it, while Iván Illych in the short story “The Death of Iván Illych” by Leo Tolstoy holds a conflicting thought about death; he is terrified of it.

In the poem “Death, Be Not Proud,” the thought of death doesn’t faze the speaker. The speaker addresses death in a sarcastic and dismissive tone. He feels that death sets you free, that the dead “wake eternally,” and death brings more pleasure than rest and sleep. The speaker scorns and ridicules death, stating that it has nothing to be proud of. The speaker disagrees with others thoughts that death is mighty and dreadful. He feels that this belief of death is no more, that death is what is actually dying.

In contrast to “Death, Be Not Proud,” the main character in “The Death of Iván Illych is petrified of death. Illych is so horrified of death that he refuses to believe it will happen. Illych uses the metaphor that death is “an unacceptable guest…unacceptable in the parlor of his consciousness.” As Iván Illych recognizes death approaching, he gets feelings of despair, and he denies the possibility of death. He refuses to accept that he will die like other men, he feels he is “…not some logical abstraction…unique, different.” To Illych, death makes no sense at all. He even personifies death as “creeping upon” him like a “highwayman or a thief in a dark alleyway.” The very thought of death fills Illych with horror and disgust.

The speaker of “Death, Be Not Proud” and the main character of “The Death of Iván Illych” both have conflicting ideas toward death. The speaker of the poem “Death, Be Not Proud” belittles death, and the mere thought of death fills Iván Illych with shock and dreadfulness.

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Uploaded by:   masone4718

Date:   11/28/2004

Category:   Literature

Length:   2 pages (351 words)

Views:   2155

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