Behind The Formaldehyde Curtain Analysis

1066 Words3 Pages

In the essay “On the Fear of Death” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross focuses on dying and the effects it has on children as well as those who are dying, while in Jessica Mitford’s “Behind the Formaldehyde Curtain” focuses more on the after fact when the deceased is being prepared of their last appearance. Both authors, point out that the current attitude toward death is to simply cover it up. A successful funeral is when the deceased looks “Lyf Lyk” in Mitford’s Essay, but in Kubler-Ross’ it is dying at a peace with oneself, no IVs attached. Both authors feel that the current views of death is dehumanizing. Mitford points this out with the allusion that the funeral parlors are a theatrical play, while Kubler-Ross comments “I think there are many reasons …show more content…

She opens up her essay by saying “How surprised [Yorick] would be to see how his counterpart of today is whisked off to a funeral parlor and is in short order sprayed, sliced, pierced, pickled, trussed, trimmed, creamed, waxed, painted, rouged, and neatly dressed transformed from a common corpse into a Beautiful Memory Picture.”(Mitford) Funerals are meant to protect people from seeing what kind of toll death has on their loved one; to remove the scars of being human. Kubler-Ross touches on this when she says “The more we are making advancements in science, the more we seem to fear and deny the reality of death. How is this possible? We use euphemisms, we make the dead look as if they were asleep” (Kubler-Ross) which connects to her opinion that death is feared and people take responsibility when a loved one dies, even if they had no impact on their death. The eradication of the sense of death is the key reason why the deceased are embalmed. Clifton Bryant discusses that the reason why people want to have their dead embalmed is because of “death anxiety”, that it is the collective phrase for all the different and complex fears of death. He later states that death anxiety is why we tend to have “death denial” and why we tend to avoid it wholly. “Likewise, the use of metaphors or euphemisms that serve to soften the harshness of death (e.g., passed away, deceased, expired) clearly represents a culturally approved attempt to deny or camouflage death's impact on our daily lives.”(Bryant) This reflects well on the point Mitford makes, when she says “[The funeral director] put on a well-oiled performance in which the concept of death played no part whatsoever” (Mitford) Kubler-Ross feels that death being ever increasingly more taboo the more

More about Behind The Formaldehyde Curtain Analysis

Open Document