Figurative Language and William Ernest Henley

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Although William Ernest Henley (1849-1903) was affected by tuberculosis at an early age, he led an active life. He has published various volumes of books and poems that reflect the pain as a tuberculosis patient during his stays at the infirmary for several years. He was able to survive for 30 years and worked as an editor, critic and poet. During Henley’s adult life, he often received criticism from others who don’t understand his perspective of poem, drama and so on. One of his famous poems that were well-known by everyone was called, “Invictus.” In the poem “Invictus”, it sends out a powerful message to the audiences with the help from figurative language.

William Ernest Henley was born on August 23, 1849 in Gloucester, England. He was the eldest of five sons and one daughter. His father, William Henley, was a poor bookseller and stationer. In 1868 his father died and left his family living in debt. His mother, Mary Morgan, descended from poet and critic Joseph Wharton. Between 1861 and 1867, he was educated at Crypt Grammar School. Then, in 1867, he passed the exam. However, he didn’t go to higher institution due to his illness and lack of financial supports. Then he moved to London and worked as a journalist.
At the age of 12, he suffered from tuberculosis of the bone that resulted in the amputation of his left leg below the knee. Then in 1873, his right leg was also diagnosis by tuberculosis. He was lucky to be under care by Dr. Lister at Edinburgh Infirmary. He stayed at the hospital for almost two years and he used that time to write and publish the poems In Hospital that reflected his traumatic experiences as a patient. In 1878, he married Anna Boyle, youngest daughter of a mechanical engineer father, and ha...

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...les. Henley writes Invictus during his handicap life in the hospital. It describes this suffering of tuberculosis. The message he send out was that even if your physical body was in pain, your spirit soul wasn’t defeated yet. Therefore, don’t let anyone or anything to control your fate. You must be the master of your fate and the captain of your soul.

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