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Voyage of Life Analysis

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Voyage of Life Analysis
Aislinn Noone Noone 1
Mr. Majeski
AP Lit P1
Voyage of Life Response
9-6-12

Life’s Beginning and End
In Thomas Cole’s series of paintings, “Voyage of Life,” shows the different stages of a person’s life. The message of the series is how a man’s life can be summarized in four stages that are guided by angels from birth to death. The first painting, “Voyage of Life: Childhood,” shows a lavish landscape full of thriving plant life. This represents brand new life. A holy figure that stands behind the child, acts like some kind of protector at first. They both stand with their arms embracing the world in a golden angel boat holding a full hourglass. The hourglass symbolizes a start of a new life. The boat is surrounded by water in which it that epitomizes birth.
As Cole goes on to his second painting, “The Voyage of Life: Youth,” the child is now grown up into his teen years. He is now in the boat by himself with the holy figure off to the side pointing in the direction of some sort of castle in the background. Before, the child was once in a bay, but now the water is a sort of river of life going off to the left in which the landscape is more of a desert. This represents the aging of the youth. While the right shows the more plentiful plant life and what was left of the boy’s childhood that the youth is now leaving.
Noone 2
Within the third painting, “Voyage of Life: Manhood,” the youth is now a man. His terrain is much more dangerous than the previous. Almost no plant life whatsoever, and if any, they are dying. He is in the boat going through rapids, while the weather is less than likeable being that it is storming. He looks to the heavens, where the holy figure looks down at him. The man is praying for help; almost like he is begging for forgiveness.
The last and final painting, “The Voyage of Life: Old Age,” is the darkest and calmest than the earlier paintings before it. The waters are completely calm, almost like it’s a dark oblivion. No plant life of any kind is seen anywhere. The sky is utterly dark, except for the one stream of light shinning through. There is no longer any angel holding an hourglass; it has arisen from the boat to guide the old man to the light where several other angels are flying in the background; thus, indicating the end of the old man’s life.

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