Log in

I forgot my password

Poll
October 2017
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031    

Calendar Calendar


Virginia Woolf and Annie Dillard (Moth)

 :: 1 :: Stories

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Virginia Woolf and Annie Dillard (Moth)

Post  Admin on September 19th 2008, 12:34 pm

Virginia Woolf
The Death of the Moth, and other essays
THE DEATH OF THE MOTH


Moths that fly by day are not properly to be called moths; they do not excite that pleasant sense of dark autumn nights and ivy–blossom which the commonest yellow–underwing asleep in the shadow of the curtain never fails to rouse in us. They are hybrid creatures, neither gay like butterflies nor sombre like their own species. Nevertheless the present specimen, with his narrow hay–coloured wings, fringed with a tassel of the same colour, seemed to be content with life. It was a pleasant morning, mid–September, mild, benignant, yet with a keener breath than that of the summer months. The plough was already scoring the field opposite the window, and where the share had been, the earth was pressed flat and gleamed with moisture. Such vigour came rolling in from the fields and the down beyond that it was difficult to keep the eyes strictly turned upon the book. The rooks too were keeping one of their annual festivities; soaring round the tree tops until it looked as if a vast net with thousands of black knots in it had been cast up into the air; which, after a few moments sank slowly down upon the trees until every twig seemed to have a knot at the end of it. Then, suddenly, the net would be thrown into the air again in a wider circle this time, with the utmost clamour and vociferation, as though to be thrown into the air and settle slowly down upon the tree tops were a tremendously exciting experience.

The same energy which inspired the rooks, the ploughmen, the horses, and even, it seemed, the lean bare–backed downs, sent the moth fluttering from side to side of his square of the window–pane. One could not help watching him. One was, indeed, conscious of a queer feeling of pity for him. The possibilities of pleasure seemed that morning so enormous and so various that to have only a moth’s part in life, and a day moth’s at that, appeared a hard fate, and his zest in enjoying his meagre opportunities to the full, pathetic. He flew vigorously to one corner of his compartment, and, after waiting there a second, flew across to the other. What remained for him but to fly to a third corner and then to a fourth? 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. What he could do he did. Watching him, it seemed as if a fibre, very thin but pure, of the enormous energy of the world had been thrust into his frail and diminutive body. As often as he crossed the pane, I could fancy that a thread of vital light became visible. He was little or nothing but life.

Yet, because he was so small, and so simple a form of the energy that was rolling in at the open window and driving its way through so many narrow and intricate corridors in my own brain and in those of other human beings, there was something marvellous as well as pathetic about him. It was as if someone had taken a tiny bead of pure life and decking it as lightly as possible with down and feathers, had set it dancing and zig–zagging to show us the true nature of life. Thus displayed one could not get over the strangeness of it. One is apt to forget all about life, seeing it humped and bossed and garnished and cumbered so that it has to move with the greatest circumspection and dignity. Again, the thought of all that life might have been had he been born in any other shape caused one to view his simple activities with a kind of pity.

After a time, tired by his dancing apparently, he settled on the window ledge in the sun, and, the queer spectacle being at an end, I forgot about him. Then, looking up, my eye was caught by him. He was trying to resume his dancing, but seemed either so stiff or so awkward that he could only flutter to the bottom of the window–pane; and when he tried to fly across it he failed. Being intent on other matters I watched these futile attempts for a time without thinking, unconsciously waiting for him to resume his flight, as one waits for a machine, that has stopped momentarily, to start again without considering the reason of its failure. After perhaps a seventh attempt he slipped from the wooden ledge and fell, fluttering his wings, on to his back on the window sill. The helplessness of his attitude roused me. It flashed upon me that he was in difficulties; he could no longer raise himself; his legs struggled vainly. But, as I stretched out a pencil, meaning to help him to right himself, it came over me that the failure and awkwardness were the approach of death. I laid the pencil down again.

The legs agitated themselves once more. I looked as if for the enemy against which he struggled. I looked out of doors. What had happened there? Presumably it was midday, and work in the fields had stopped. Stillness and quiet had replaced the previous animation. The birds had taken themselves off to feed in the brooks. The horses stood still. Yet the power was there all the same, massed outside indifferent, impersonal, not attending to anything in particular. Somehow it was opposed to the little hay–coloured moth. It was useless to try to do anything. One could only watch the extraordinary efforts 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; nothing, I knew, had any chance against death. Nevertheless after a pause of exhaustion the legs fluttered again. It was superb this last protest, and so frantic that he succeeded at last in righting himself. One’s sympathies, of course, were all on the side of life. Also, when there was nobody to care or to know, this gigantic effort on the part of an insignificant little moth, against a power of such magnitude, to retain what no one else valued or desired to keep, moved one strangely. Again, somehow, one saw life, a pure bead. I lifted the pencil again, useless though I knew it to be. But even as I did so, the unmistakable tokens of death showed themselves. The body relaxed, and instantly grew stiff. The struggle was over. The insignificant little creature now knew death. As I looked at the dead moth, this minute wayside triumph of so great a force over so mean an antagonist filled me with wonder. Just as life had been strange a few minutes before, so death was now as strange. The moth having righted himself now lay most decently and uncomplainingly composed. O yes, he seemed to say, death is stronger than I am.




From "Death of a Moth"
by Annie Dillard


One night a moth flew into the candle, was caught, burnt dry, and held. I must have been staring at the candle, or maybe I looked up when the shadow crossed my page; at any rate, I saw it all. A golden female moth, a biggish one with a two-inch wingspread, flapped into the fire, drooped abdomen into the wet wax, stuck, flamed, and frazzled in a second. Her moving wings ignited like tissue paper, like angels' wings, enlarging the circle of the darkness the sudden blue sleeves of my sweater, the green leaves of jewelweed by my side, the ragged red trunk of a pine; at once the light contracted again and the moth's wings vanished in a fine, foul smoke. At the same time, her six legs clawed, curled, blackened, and ceased, disappearing utterly. And her head jerked in spasms, making a spattering noise; her antennae crisped and burnt away and her heaving mouthparts cracked like pistol fire. When it was all over, her head was, so far as I could determine, gone, gone the long way of her wings and legs. Her head was a hole lost to time. All that was left was the glowing horn shell of her abdomen and thorax---a fraying, partially collapsed gold tube jammed upright in the candle's round pool.

And then this moth-essence, this spectacular skeleton, began to act as a wick. She kept burning. The wax rose in the moth's body from her soaking abdomen to her thorax to the shattered hole where her head should have been, and widened into a flame, a saffron-yellow flame that robed her to the ground like an immolating monk. That candle had two wicks, two winding flames of identical light, side by side. The moth's head was fire. She burned for two hours, until I blew her out.

She burned for two hours without changing, without swaying or kneeling---only glowing within, like a boiling fire glimpsed through silhouetted walls, like a hollow saint, like a flame-faced virgin gone to God, while I read by her light, kindled while Rimbaud in Paris burnt out his brain in a thousand poems, while night pooled wetly at my feet.

So. That is why I think those hollow shreds on the bathroom floor are moths. I believe I know what moths look like, in any state.

I have three candles here on the table which I disentangle from the plants and light when visitors come. The cats avoid them, though Small’s tail caught fire once. I rubbed it out before she noticed. I don’t mind living alone. The only time I mind being alone is when something is funny, when I am laughing at something funny, I wish someone were around. Sometimes I think it is pretty funny that I sleep alone.


1. DICTION: Compare and contrast the way both writers describe the death of the moth? What are some of the key phrases and details that create a vivid picture of the moth’s “violent” death in the mind of the reader?

2. TONE: How would you describe the tone of these pieces? Consider the impact the death of the moth has upon both the narrator and the reader.

3. STRUCTURE/ENDING: How does each author develop the theme of her essay? What is the effect on the reader of the final paragraphs of each essay? How do we react to violence and death in nature? Why does the death of this seemingly insignificant insect evoke such strong feelings in the narrators?


In a well-developed essay, compare and contrast Virginia Woolf’s and Annie Dillard’s essays by discussing diction, tone, and structure? Are there noticeable differences in the rhetorical strategies each author employs to convey her theme?


Last edited by Admin on December 15th 2008, 1:29 pm; edited 1 time in total
avatar
Admin
Admin

Posts : 130
Join date : 2008-09-10

View user profile http://apenglish.forumotion.net

Back to top Go down

"Killer" Intro

Post  CDuBs on September 19th 2008, 12:48 pm

While Virginia Woolf and Annie Dillard chose a story of similar consequence, the core plot line of each being the death of a moth, the two writers took very different approaches to exploring this event. Virginia Woolf’s essay was full of beautiful and very reverent adjectives, virtually painting a picture for the reader of this moth’s death. Her use of language also expands the meaning of this story to a larger scale, suggesting that the moth is being used as a symbol for anyone who is on the verge of confronting death. Annie Dillard, on the other hand, uses blunt descriptions, often a little graphic, in order to depict a less glorious version of death. She also chooses a different underlying message to portray. While Woolf broadens her story to relate to the human race, Dillard takes a more introspective approach, relaying to the reader how witnessing the death of this moth makes her feel, effects her way of life.


Last edited by CDuBs on September 23rd 2008, 12:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
avatar
CDuBs
Emily Dickinson

Posts : 34
Join date : 2008-09-11
Age : 25
Location : School of the Arts

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Intro

Post  katyreb on September 19th 2008, 12:49 pm

Life and Death are common topics for many writers, as they are two things that are more mysterious to humans, things about which we wonder. Both Virginia Woolf and Annie Dillard discuss these topics in their essays, coincidentally both titled “The Death of a Moth”. Although these essays have the same title, the authors go about analyzing their topic in different ways. Virginia Woolf concentrates more on the moth, from its life to its struggles to its death, finding inspiration in the moth; Annie Dillard simply describes the moth’s death, and seems to relate the moth to her own life.
avatar
katyreb
Walt Whitman

Posts : 22
Join date : 2008-09-11

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Jeffrey Levine

Post  Admin on September 19th 2008, 12:49 pm

The apparent simplicity of a moth is challenged by both Woolf and Dillard in their essays. For each essayist, a moth evokes different emotions, imagery, and insight into their own human existence… (Unfinished, I need help)
avatar
Admin
Admin

Posts : 130
Join date : 2008-09-10

View user profile http://apenglish.forumotion.net

Back to top Go down

Virginia Woolf

Post  Allie5491 on September 19th 2008, 12:49 pm

Both Annie Dillard's and Virginia Woolf's essays Death of a Moth explore the beauty and symbolism behind immortality. Although the authors share the theme of death, the tone and diction of each essay differs substantially. While Virginia Woolf's narration appears in awe of Death, Dillard seems afraid as she watches the moth disappear in flame. Likewise, Woolf's personal, poetic description of the struggle between life and death contrasts extensively with Dillard's intense and straightforward imagery. Despite the similar themes depicted in both Annie Dillard and Virginia Woolf's Death of a Moth, each author brings a far different reflection of the unstoppable power of death.

Allie5491
Walt Whitman

Posts : 24
Join date : 2008-09-11

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Virginia Woolf and Annie Dillard (Moth)

Post  Atlantisbase on September 19th 2008, 12:50 pm

The concepts of life and death and perhaps by extension, good and evil, are presented with subtle sympathy by Virginia Woolf “The Death of the Moth” and by Annie Dillard in a far more graphic and violent manner in her “Death of a Moth”. Woolf gives us a view of death which is very noble and very majestic but at the same time is extremely sad and moving. The tone Woolf presents gives us a very uplifting and inspirational; she gives us a view of death which we usually only associate with soldiers and battle and honor. Dillard on the other hand tells the death of the moth in a very dark tone. She presents the moth as little more than an insect which happened to fly into the fire. It is a morbid tone, a tone of death.
avatar
Atlantisbase
Emily Dickinson

Posts : 30
Join date : 2008-09-11
Location : Investigating an unidentified ship sighted in Sector 31428

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Virginia Woolf and Annie Dillard (Moth)

Post  WKeller on September 19th 2008, 12:50 pm

William Keller
AP English Pd. 5


The death of a moth is not something that most people would observe, then critically examine and write about. The death of something as insignificant as a moth would simply be overlooked, but writers such as Virginia Woolf and Annie Dillard examine these things and interpret them. The philosophical analyses in their essays, both of which are titled “The Death of a Moth” are subtle but powerful.

Woolf’s writing is almost poetic, giving a flow to the writing. It lets the reader take it in smoother, giving it time to settle rather than being concrete, solid, and direct to pound on the reader’s mind. The examinations of the moth’s death are deep and enlightening. It allows the reader to have a higher sense of one’s own life and have a higher appreciation for the earth’s smaller creatures. “…there was something marvelous as well as pathetic about him,” she writes; the intriguing essence of death, yet the saddening aspect of the loss of life as well. Woolf opens and introduces the topic before analyzing the moth’s death. The power of the earth, and life, and the brief moments before the moth’s life before its death: its last words.


~~Work in progress
avatar
WKeller
Emily Dickinson

Posts : 30
Join date : 2008-09-11
Age : 25
Location : Awesometon

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Amelia Francesco's intro

Post  Amelia F. on September 19th 2008, 12:55 pm

The death of a moth may seem simple and unimportant to most, but Virginia Woolf and Annie Dillard take it to heart, turning this creature’s death into something so personal and momentous that the reader does not finish these essays unaffected. Although these authors are writing about the same thing, they come at it from two very different places- personally and conceptually. Virginia Woolf writes about the moth’s death in an almost inspirational way, while Annie Dillard writes about it with a kind of morbid fascination.

It's not quite finished yet...
avatar
Amelia F.
Walt Whitman

Posts : 23
Join date : 2008-09-15
Age : 25

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Moth Intro

Post  Elizabeth Gombert on September 19th 2008, 12:55 pm

The concept of death has been a powerful motivator for art and written word for a wide variety for artists working with a wide variety of mediums across the pages of history; two such writers, Annie Dillard and Virginia Woolf, each approach the concept of death through the guise of the metaphor of “death of a moth,” yet display distinctly different moods. By juxtaposing the diction, tone and structure of Dillard and Woolf’s respective essays, the reader draws a distinction between the graphic vividly described death in Dillard’s piece, and the poetic, more serene death that takes place in Woolf’s essay.

Elizabeth Gombert
Robert Frost

Posts : 18
Join date : 2008-09-13

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Peter's

Post  pbr on September 19th 2008, 12:58 pm

Both Virginia Woolf and Annie Dillard’s essays share the same title, “Death of a Moth,” but the focus of their writings differs from that of the other. In Virginia Woolf’s work, the way in which death is represented is that of a beautiful almost serene process where even in death one is still strong. On the other hand, Annie Dillard shows death to be more of sudden, tragic event that ends without the acceptance of what is to come. Although their works are on the same subject, they are able to paint different perspectives on what the death of a moth or any living creature ofr that matter may be.


Last edited by pbr on September 22nd 2008, 12:24 pm; edited 2 times in total
avatar
pbr
Emily Dickinson

Posts : 41
Join date : 2008-09-11
Location : rotchester

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Zoe Johnson Introduction

Post  zjohnson2692 on September 19th 2008, 12:58 pm

A moth dies. It's a seemingly simple action, straightforward and meaningless. But when Virginia Woolf and Annie Dillard each witnessed a moth die, they came away with a new understanding of their own lives. How they write these essays, their tone and word choice, reveals their specific takes on the meaning of this moth's death. Virginia Woolf's descriptions are romantic, and almost respectful towards the moth. While she begins by dismissing the moth, by the end of the essay she is comparing it to a noble hero who has faced death with honor and grace. Annie Dillard, on the other hand, is torn between fascination and disgust while she is witnessing this moth's death. Her descriptions are blunt, using informal descriptions such as "frazzled". She does not romanticize the moth, as Woolf does.


This is currently unfinished.

zjohnson2692
Shel Silverstein

Posts : 25
Join date : 2008-09-15
Age : 25

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Essay Intro

Post  Meghan43 on September 19th 2008, 12:59 pm

The life of a moth and the death of a moth; small, simple, and seemingly unimportant to the human world is the subject that two authors, Dillard and Woolf can focus on so clearly. What is it about these creatures that can truly be brilliant in its dying? Woolf focuses so specifically on each movement, each twitch as a moth slowly leaves this earth and Dillard can speak swiftly on the elaborate burning death of a moth. Woolf moves slowly toward her main idea; she draws the story out, stresses the days of a moth. She does not approach her title, "The Death of the Moth" until she is well into her paper. Annie Dillard though, begins quickly with the flight of a moth into one simply flame in her "Death of a Moth". These two authors each speak on one simple subject, yet each woman is able to write to their readers in such different ways. One woman uses beautiful words to touch the readers mind while the other stings with blunt, graphic pictures as they each explain to us the death of a moth. From each of these authors the reader receives a separate understanding of the same subject and is...
(Unfinished)
avatar
Meghan43
Shel Silverstein

Posts : 27
Join date : 2008-09-14
Age : 26

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Pendle

Post  pfmh on September 19th 2008, 1:00 pm

Often times when the same set of events is seen from two different viewpoints, two different interpretations can emerge. This phenomenon occurs in the comparison of the two pieces written by Virginia Wolf and Annie Dillard; both are written on the experience of watching a moth die, and are written in different time periods. Virginia Wolf’s older, more poetic prose varies sharply with Annie Dillard’s very personal, modern tone. It is clear that the two writers draw completely different morals from their experiences of the moths’ deaths. Virginia Wolf links the death of the moth that she witnesses to a symbol of the death of a human being – her description of the moth’s death is humbling, similar to that of a human being’s death. Annie Dillard’s piece about the death of a moth is an expression of Dillard’s personal loneliness, rather than of the death of a human being. Both of these writers draw entirely different perspectives and interpretations of the moth’s death in their own pieces.

pfmh
Walt Whitman

Posts : 24
Join date : 2008-09-12

View user profile

Back to top Go down

chiara's intro

Post  chiara on September 19th 2008, 1:01 pm

Finished in a hurry. I realize now that i did not mention rhetorical strategies.



Virginia Wolf and Annie Dillard describe the death of the moth with a different underlying message. Virginia Wolf approaches the topic of death with a sense of reverence, as if death is a peaceful, omni powerful force that will eventually conquer all. In contrast, Annie Dillard approaches death with vehemence; she paints a vivid picture of the death of the moth and hints that death is exciting, yet very lonely.

chiara
Walt Whitman

Posts : 24
Join date : 2008-09-15
Age : 25

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Virginia Woolf and Annie Dillard (Moth)

Post  kconheady on September 19th 2008, 9:07 pm

To explore the concepts of life and death, both Virginia Woolf and Annie Dillard use the metaphor of “the death of a moth”. Though the titles of their works are similar, the two women approach the subject very differently. Their tones vary immensely: Woolf almost romanticizes the life of the creature; her imagery is vivid, and she paints a picture of a great struggle that is bigger than this one moth’s life; Dillard, however, is more graphic with her choice of words. She...

(and then I could not finish my sentence. this needs work)

kconheady
Walt Whitman

Posts : 21
Join date : 2008-09-15

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Virginia Woolf and Annie Dillard (Moth)

Post  Giulia on September 22nd 2008, 12:21 pm

The two authors write about the simple death of a moth, as something more complex and intriguing.

The two essays describe in a detail the death of a moth in tow distinguishing ways. The Author Virginia Wolf describes the mouths death as something spiritual, as a natural phenomenon, using a more peaceful tone. She takes the whole essay to describe the death process differently from Anny Dillards moth whos ho’s gruffly already dead.

The death of Virginia’s moth is done in a calm meditative way. Anne Dillards moths death is describes in a more tragic and Goth way. She uses less attractive and reverend words. The two moths are also seen differently from the way their death is displayed. Virginias Moth is seen with pity and as a heroic figure as his small essence struggle with the strong force of death. “One could only watch the extraordinary efforts made by those tiny legs against an oncoming doom. This sentence of Virginia is an example of the delicacy of language she uses with respect and admiration she feel towards this creature.

Anne Dillard in her sentence “And her head jerked in spasms, making a spattering noise; her antennae crisped and burnt away and her heaving mouthparts cracked like pistol fire. This is an example of how Anne gives the reader, the feeling that the creature is not an insignificant creature and that death is stronger than it. Differently from Virginias Moth we can fill vividly the moths suffering as it seems to suffers of a more tragic death. After Virginia describes the moth’s long and struggling journey to its death she looks at it as a heroic figure. Anne Dillard differently doesn’t even notest the creatures existence.

It’s amazing how such the simple death of a moth can be describes such in dept in different prospective and conditions our view towards each creature.

Giulia
Poe

Posts : 14
Join date : 2008-09-17

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Candice Response

Post  candice R on September 28th 2008, 11:34 pm

By viewing the death of a creature of such a low level of signifagance, such as a moth, it is amazing to see how Virginia Woolf and Annie Dilard alike were able to put on new perspectives of entering death and the vitilaty of life. While in Virginia Woolf's version of The Death of a Moth, she mainly used the moth's death to focused on the feeble attempts made by humans to try to escape the inevitible fate of death. In contrast, Annie Dilard took a completely opposite approach by conveying death in grim fashion; which ultimately gave and portryed a more brutal side to death.

candice R
Poe

Posts : 13
Join date : 2008-09-15

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Virginia Woolf and Annie Dillard (Moth)

Post  Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 :: 1 :: Stories

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum