Death of a Moth

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Both Anne Dillard and Virginia Woolf describe the death of a moth in their respective essays to

achieve dissimilar ends. Dillard hopes to capture the self sacrificial path of a writer; while Woolf

simply wants to draw attention to the strength of an individual's drive and the even stronger hand of

death. Woolf's description is more effective, for she is able to clearly make her point through the

description; whereas Dillard's description and argument are separate, and she must connect them.

Through organization alone, Woolf's description is more effective than Dillard's because of its

placement in the piece. Woolf's description of the phenomenon of death is in the last paragraph. Just as

in one's life, death comes at the end. She chronicles the moths attempt to escape in three phases: in the

first phase, he is ominously drawn to the window as a portal to escape through; in the second phase, she

admires his drive and liveliness and simultaneously pities attempts made in vain; in the third phase, the

moth begins to physically decline and fly erratically; finally, he dies. Woolf's essay is highly description

based, and her description carries her argument. The youth, decline and hopeless attempts of the moth

are characteristic of every living creature. They all have their peaks, their goals and ultimately their

deaths. The reader is no exception. All human beings must die, and this is the driving force that relates

the reader to Woolf's description. We all are helpless and hopeless (much like the moth) against “a

power of such magnitude” (Woolf). Death is inescapable.

Dillard chooses to place her description of death in the center of her essay. She opens speaking

about her cat then begins to go in detail about a spider that has any insect parts on a web for its dinner.

She then continues to explain her experience with moths and speaks about a moth that flew into her

candle while she was...
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