Themes in “Do not go gentle into that good night” – Dylan Thomas

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Theme of Death

Death is a common experience in humanity. It affects every living being: animal, plant and human. The word is always metaphorically used to signify the end of something, danger or unproductiveness. This writer, especially being born in the time of war, has experienced the dangers of death and is determined to change peoples’ reaction to it.

In the poem, “Do not go gentle into that good night”, death is the central theme. From the title of the poem, the idea of death is introduced, as well as in line one which is exactly the title. It is referred to as “good night”. When it is late at night and one is going to bed, the usually departure statement is “good night”.

However, the poetic persona here uses the phrase to refer to death; which perhaps means that to say goodnight is to say one is dying. The phrase also suggests that death is a night that never passes, a night that comes to remain forever (that is, it comes for good). Therefore whatever is to be done must be done before death comes.

The poem encourages people to resist death. Death often makes people fear. People generally do not want to die, so they fear sickness, old age, war, or any situation that exposes them to death. The persona here says that even the old people should “rage against the dying of the light” (line three), which means they should fight to stay alive. Although it looks like they may die soon, they should ignore death and live free from fear of death. “Light” in the poem represents life: the light which should not be dying.

Everybody dies: good men, old men, wild men, grave men, and relatives (My father: line 16). Since humanity has always experienced death, the persona does not deny that death is a reality as he says “though wise men at their end know dark is right”, but then he encourages every human to resist death by saying “Do not go gentle into that good night … rage, rage against the dying of the light”. Good men should not die; they still have more good works to do, so they should resist death and not fear it: Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay”. Ambitious and carefree people who get very occupied with their activities should not worry about the coming of death.
The person recognizes that death brings sadness and pain, and that when a person gets close to death, he or she becomes grieved. Good men cry about their unfinished works because of death. In line 16, he speaks to his “father, there on the sad height”, which means his old father is near death. In line 17 he added, “Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears….” The tears are fierce because death is near and it is not a pleasant experience.

In conclusion, Dylan Thomas in “Do not go gentle into that good night” is aware of the effect of death on humanity and is encourage people to fight and achieve their plans in life. Death may be known to bring pain, but it should not continue to be like that. They should rage against death and claim their liberty no matter their situation.

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