Death Forgets No One: a Paper on the Theme of Death in World Literature

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Angela Jamison
Ms. Candi Alexander
World Literature
5 May 2013
Death Forgets No One: A Paper on the Theme of Death in World Literature
William Shakespeare once wrote, “All that live must die, passing through nature to eternity” (Shakespeare). In the works that have been studied in World Literature, death has been a prominent theme in almost every work, whether it is through murder, starvation, or bull fighting. However, before we can discuss how death is a reoccurring theme, the importance of world literature must be discussed.

Fidel Fajardo-Acosta said that: “…literature has been traditionally understood… as having the dual purpose of entertaining and educating its audience” (Fajardo-Acosta). What this quote means is that when we are studying world literature, we are reading what other countries view as both entertaining, and educating. It may give us an insight into the worldview of a country, but it may also be an over exaggeration, meaning we are getting the wrong idea. It is up to us to research what we are reading to find out the truth. World literature can expand a person’s literacy skills due to the fact that it means he is reading something that used to be in another language. It means he can learn words that were not able to be translated expanding his vocabulary, thus expanding his literacy. It can help him understand other texts because writers are often quoting or referring to other texts within their texts. If he has read many works, when a text is referred, he will know exactly why and not be confused to the reference. World Literature can help him to acquire new information by reading many works and by expanding his vocabulary.

He can respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace through the reading of world literature. World Literature can show how they meet the needs and demands of their workplaces, meaning the reader can decide what to learn and not learn from it. World literature can help him experience personal and spiritual fulfillment by allowing him to take a look into others’ religions. By exploring the religion of others, he can truly appreciate the religion of his choice. Other religions can open his eyes to things we have not heard of before, seen before, etc. It can make him think critically of his own religion or of their religion. It can also make him think critically by bringing up points that are thought of differently in his society such as death.

Death is viewed many different ways. It can be viewed as a good event, a bad event, it can be brutal, it can be peaceful, etc. There are just so many different ways it can be viewed. This paper will touch up on a few of those ways from the works studied such as Candide, The death of Ivan Ilyich, and Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias in the world literature class. Studying death in these three pieces can help us to learn how death was viewed in three different countries. From these three works, it definitely seems like the three different countries of France, Russia, and Mexico view death differently.

Candide by Francois-Marie Arouet De Voltaire is a French piece written in 1759. Death is inevitable in Candide. For example, within chapter three, we begin to read about corpses being everywhere. In chapter four, we read about many cruel deaths, such as, beheadings, disembowelments, rapes, being cut to bits, etc. An example from the story is: “…she was disemboweled by the Bulgar soldiers, after having been raped to the absolute limit of human endurance; they smashed the Baron’s head when he tried to defend her, cut the Baroness to bits, and treated my poor pupil exactly like his sister” (Voltaire 195). Just from this little bit of information, we can make inquiries that at this time in France death was not a big deal. Even more so, there is much, much more death later on in the story that is just as bad. Death was everywhere and normal. However, that is not the case in the next work.

The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo...
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