Afraid Explication (English 102)

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David Bowie’s “Afraid” Explication

Even though the emotion of fear is the dominating theme runs through the lyrics of David Bowie’s “Afraid” fear is not the first emotion the reader or listener encounters in the verses of the song.

In the first stanza, the emotion of longing is the first sensation you meet with the narrator yearning to be smarter or even to be taller; testifying his goal of self-improvement, he longs to be a different person, different than he is now.

In the second stanza, the second emotion expressed is the emotion of hope. The narrator believes in a better tomorrow, he believes his soul still grow. All his beliefs, be it that, we are not alone or his belief in the Beatles will lead to a better world. Unfortunately the constant aspect of fear dogs him, dampening his optimism for a greater future. This constant fear clearly manifest itself in the third stanza where the fear of loss is clearly displayed; the loss of one’s self. The narrator is afraid of being alone but he also fears the state of confusion, he can’t remember his former sense of himself, not only what made him happy but what made him sad. The stanza reflects his longing of the past where he fearlessly controlled the oceans, and reached such heights in his mind that he walked among the clouds.

The forth stanza conveys again the feeling of hope, the narrator is counting on the great “what ifs” of life. “If I can only believe again, if I put my hope into medication, or I achieve a certain amount of fame by talking on the television, or perhaps I’ll achieve inner piece introspection by walking an empty mile, I’ll be able to battle fear, and with these achievements, finally conquer fear. I’ll never be afraid anymore, anymore.”
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