For eons a stigma has been placed over death, cloaking it in a shroud of pain, tragedy and taboo. For many, death represents doom while others view passing on as a welcomed changed, a new start and a chance to reunite with already deceased loved ones. Blue Oyster Cult's popular song, (Don't Fear) The Reaper, exhibits an optimistic attitude towards humankind's transition from this life to the next. Through the use of allusion and imagery, the lyrics illustrate that even though dying is inevitable and unavoidable, death should not be dreaded.
As expected, the lyricist portrays death by using the character of the grim reaper. Stereotypically presented as the silent, no-nonsense agent of death, the reaper defies popular opinion, "Baby take my hand . . . we'll be able to fly . . . Baby I'm your man." Here, he comes across as an understanding and soothing entity while trying to comfort a distressed woman who is thought to have lost her lover. By uttering the words, the reaper softens his approach, adding a sympathetic, almost human, quality to his reputation. He calls the woman "baby," as a mother would call a child "sweetheart," and refers to death in a positive manner. In doing so, he attempts to lessen her fear for her looming departure.
Playing on her obvious grief over a loved one, the reaper alludes to Shakespeare's most tragic couple, "Romeo and Juliet / Are together in eternity. . . ." At the mention of the two star-crossed lovers, he appeals to the woman's broken heart, declaring that once she dies she will be reunited with her lost love for all time. Just like Romeo and Juliet, she will be happy and cherished in the next life. This further supports the message that death is not the loathed existence that many perceive.
The mention of the seasons and natural occurrences, "Seasons don't fear the reaper / Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain . . ." bolsters the reaper's argument of not being afraid of passing on. By presenting these examples, he explains...
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