Dillard and Woolf Style and Effect Compare and Contrast
Annie Dillard and Virginia Woolf both wrote beautiful essays, entitled “Death of A Moth,” and “Death of the Moth,” respectively. The similarities between the two pieces are seen just in the titles; however, the pieces exhibit several differences. While both Dillard and Woolf wrote extensive and detailed essays following deaths of moths, each writer’s work displays influence from different styles and tone, and each moth has a different effect on the respective writer; Dillard utilizes more blunt, and often graphic description in her writing, contrasting with Woolf’s reverent and solemn writing. Dillard is affected by allowing her to contemplate the concept of eternity and purpose after death; conversely, Woolf reflects on her own life and the human race, as she compares the moth to herself.
A superfluous use of description emphasizes Dillard’s unique and meticulous style. The use of long sentences allows for abundant amounts of description, coupled with figurative language, and imagery. Dillard uses graphic verbs to describe the death of a moth. For example, in the midst of the death, Dillard describes it by saying, “...Her head jerked in spasms, making a spattering noise; her antennae crisped and burnt away...” (“Death of a Moth”.) However, she still manages to make the moth seem beautiful by calling its body, “a spectacular skeleton,” and comparing the moth’s wings to angels’ wings. Dillard’s use of description allows readers to visualize the moth and its death. Dillard is relatively emotionally unaffected by the moth’s death, as opposed to Woolf, as seen in sentence structure. Dillard’s skillful description mixes brutality with beauty in order to describe death.
The death of this moth leaves Dillard contemplating the sense of eternity, and purpose after death. Though the moth dies, and burns to a crisp in the candle, Dillard uses its body long after. For two hours, Dillard uses the moth as a wick...
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