Is Death Destroying Society or Motivating Change?

In the end everyone dies, but not everyone can accept that reality calmly. There are those, such as the Brigata in The Decameron, who let their fear of death consume them, only furthering the panicked mentality of the ten youth. Contrarily, Montaigne seems to have grasped the concept that to know that death is approaching only allows you to really live, citing his view of death as an adventure of sorts that will free him from the constraints of daily life. Montaigne uses his fear of dying without accomplishing anything to teach him how to live a fulfilling life, instead of using his creativity to stave his fear of death as the Brigata do in The Decameron, as he is no longer afraid to die as they are.

Unlike in The Decameron, where the Brigata let their fear of death control the way that they live, Montaigne recognizes that death is inevitable and uses this knowledge to fuel the writing of his Essays. “But, as for death itself, that is inevitable. [A] And so if death makes us afraid, that is a subject of continual torment which nothing can assuage.” (Montaigne 19-20) He talks here about there being no point living in fear because all it does prevent you from enjoying life and accomplishing anything meaningful. In other words, do not spend your life worrying about something that you cannot control. There is no way for him to decide when he will die and so instead he decides to spend the time that he has writing something that he views as worth having spent his life on. He believed that in doing so his Essays would live on after he passed and be around to tell his story because he had no other progeny to do so. So instead of running from death, one should face it straight on and be able to say that their life meant something. Montai...

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...their lives for fear of accidentally ending them like the Brigata. Montaigne is an example of someone who has gotten over his fear of death and instead uses the immintent threat that it is coming for him as a way to motivate himself to do something worth remembering with his life while the Brigata are too paralyzed by fear and prefer instead to avoid thinking on the fact that death could come for them anytime. They do however allow this fear to fuel some measure of creativity by using it to help them come up with stories that they use as distractions to get them through each day and onto the next. In this way death can cause either strife or allow someone to bloom depending on whether or not they let the fear control them or whether they decide to use it as a lesson instead.

Works Cited

The Decameron by Boccaccio

Essays by Michel de Montaigne

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