Professor Yelena Shekhtman
Academic Research and Writing II
March 19, 2013
CSCI1105 Word Processing Assignment
Life and Death
The cartoon “Death is a Bitch” from the series “The Family Guy” and Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death”, though very different in content and tones while approach the matter, both contain very original messages about living and dying. Through the messages, the cartoon and the story deliver an encouraging attitude towards living and convey a positive outlook on Death. After learning the two texts, I am enlightened by their new perspective that a respectful and accepting attitude towards Death should be attained by humans, not afraid or escaping. From that attitude can humans learn to value life and treasure the many precious things in life that are often taken for granted.
“Death is a Bitch” is a highly entertaining cartoon from the famous series “The Family Guy”. In this episode, Peter’s family is faced with the situation where Peter may die in very near future as Lois finds a lump, which may mean cancer, on Peter’s breast. Upon realizing the situation, Lois and Peter have different ways of coping with Peter’s probable upcoming death. Lois tries to assure Peter to stay positive: “The important thing is to stay calm. It’s probably nothing.” At the same time Peter freaks out and tries to avoid likely death: “I’m not gonna see a doctor, Lois. The healthiest thing we can do about this is ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist.” Although different in terms of accepting Death, both Lois and Peter are afraid of Death. They both awfully worry about the fact that Peter may die very soon and try to avoid Death. The same worry and fear is felt universally among every human being. Dread of Death is also presented throughout “The Masque of the Red Death” with high intensity. Horror of the peculiar Red Death plague spreads so widely throughout the country that everybody tries to stay out of reach of Red Death. Prince Prospero, in danger like everyone else, also tries to hide the scythe of Red Death by instituting “an extensive and magnificent structure” that includes everything to supply the most extravagant and enjoyable life: “All these and security were within. Without was the ‘Red Death’ ” (Poe 1).
When facing with Death, people realize that there are many more worthy things that deserve being treasured in Life. Like in the case of Peter, when he is pretty sure that he is going to die, even before the test result of his lump comes out, he sets a yard sale for his family so they can have some more money after he dies. When the lump finally reveals to be only a benign corpuscle, Peter declares: “From now on I’m gonna appreciate all the little things in life like you and the kids”. Ironically, Death makes humans more grateful of Life. The love for Life, on the edge of Death, grows much bolder and more intense than ever. Inside the abbeys of Prince Prospero, “while the pestilence raged most furiously abroad”, Life cherishment blossoms into “a masked ball of the most unusual magnificence” (Poe 1). The ball, along with the abbeys as a whole, symbolizes people’s most ambitious dreams of living a fulfilled life. With dreams the revelers dance, laugh, drink and sing merrily, wholeheartedly like they never do before even under constant threat of Death. Poe even prefers to them directly as “dreams”. The revelers are living in dreams, telling themselves that Death will take a long time to reach them, “in them beat feverishly the heart of life” (Poe 3). The ambition to live, to enjoy living in the revelers, and humans in general, is burning more intensively as Death is coming closer.
While Peter’s family is celebrating Peter’s good health, Death comes and collects Peter. The reaction of the family is the same as of the revelers when seeing the figure of Death in the middle of the ball. It is “terror, horror,… disgust” (Poe 3). The Prince is “convulsed… with a strong shudder either of...