Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night By Dylan Thomas

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In the famous poem “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night”, poet Dylan Thomas implores his dying father to meet death aggressively with both passion and energy. While the bereaved son feels empathy for his father’s impending death, he is also angered by his father’s unwillingness to fight; to affirm life until the very end. Thomas sees his father as a passive figure, one who has let his failures in life define him. For instance, his father, David John Thomas, dreamed of becoming a poet, but settled for teaching literature at the local grammar school. Dylan Thomas sees this as an example of giving up too soon and he beseeches his father to fight his impending death until the very end. The elder Thomas is quietly awaiting death, but his son cannot stand watching him go without a fight. The contradiction in the poem is the son’s desperation at the realization of the inevitability of his father’s death versus his desire to convince his father not to give up without a fight. It is the acceptance of death as well as rebellion against it.
Although the poem is written as a villanelle, a very rigid poetic form, Thomas uses words and phrases which allow a great deal of emotion to shine through. A villanelle is a nineteen line poem usually written in iambic pentameter where certain lines are repeated as refrains. These refrains alternate throughout the poem until the final quatrain where both are repeated in a final
McCullough 2 powerful couplet. A villanelle is composed of five tercets and a final quatrain. The ABA rhyme scheme gives the poem an almost melodic sound when read aloud and ties all the stanzas together. At first reading, Dylan’s anger concerning his father’s death and his unwillingness to fight it are forceful and ...

... middle of paper ... ever okay to say, “I’ve had
McCullough 5 enough”? How much influence should family members have on a person’s decision? Can parents deliberately withhold medication and treatment from their children? Does a medical power of attorney allow one to make decisions contrary to the patient’s wishes? Is euthanasia ever an option? Is suicide? In today’s society, where advances in medicine can be used to prolong the life of the sick and elderly, should they always be employed? Should the government be allowed to legislate rules regarding end of life decisions? These questions still reverberate today and the answers are illusive. Perhaps, the method of facing death is truly personal based on one’s health, life style and religious beliefs. Perhaps, the decision to “rage, rage against the dying light” (3) or to “go gently into that good night” (6) is one’s own.
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