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Death as a Symbolic Theme in Modern Literature - Essay Example

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Name of the of the Concerned Professor English 12 May 2012 Death as a Symbolic Theme in Modern Literature Though literature to a great extent is a portrayal of the varied aspects of human life, there are some facets of human life that find a more than average scope and place in modern literature…
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Death as a Symbolic Theme in Modern Literature

Download file to see previous pages... It happens to be the one and only real absolute. Death separates a character from one’s life and loved ones, both of which tend to be experiences fraught with much anxiety. In a way death tends to be the ultimate separation and end of life. In this sense death is an expansive experience in the sense that it is a literary concept that transcends beyond the scope of a work of literary creativity to pervade the fate of entire humanity. Death happens to be a potent theme that is common to Little Bee, Heart of Darkness, The Convergence of the Twain and The Love Song of Alfred Prufrock. Death is pervasive in all these works of literature, though in each specific work death is not merely about the annihilation of human life, but rather carries a much broader symbolic meaning. Death as a pervasive theme lurks almost on every page of Little Bee by Chris Cleave. In both the flashbacks and the confessions rendered by the two central characters Little Bee and Sarah, unraveling their travails and tragedies, death turns out to be a pervasive reality that imbues the varied aspects of their lives. Little Bee comes across scenes of abject bloodshed and carnage when her family and neighbors are annihilated and killed by the treasure hunters of black gold, in her village. She vividly remembers how her sister got raped, murdered and butchered like a wild animal. Little Bee tends to be a witness when Sarah’s husband Andrew commits suicide in their study room. Like Little Bee, the life of Sarah is time and again punctuated and jolted by episodes of death. The brutal tale that stands to be the life experience of Sarah gets further highlighted when she and her son Charlie try to come to terms with the shocking and untimely death of Andrew. Though the three characters that are Little Bee, Sarah and Charlie try to deal with the reality of death in their own unique ways, death at a symbolic level carries an almost singular meaning in their lives aptly conveyed in the words of Sarah, “That Summer-the summer my husband dies-we all had identities we were loath to let go (Cleave 22).” In the novel Little Bee, death in a symbolic context signifies the loss of an identity, an identity that is replete with meaning, acceptance and a sense of belonging. The central characters in the quest for seeking joy and hope irrespective of this loss of identity tend to surpass the constraints imposed by death and mortality. There is no denying the fact that in the Heart of Darkness written by Joseph Conrad, death is not only a concept that comes out as being ubiquitous throughout the setting of the novel, but rather it is a work of fiction that extends a whole new meaning to the concept of death. In the Heart of Darkness, death is portrayed by Conrad as a sly, intimidating and lurking animal that not only hides in the nooks and corners of the African landscape on which the story floats, but death also emerges to be a primordial fear layered in the dark and complex recesses of the human consciousness (Bloom 14). In the Heart of Darkness, the plot unfolds in the Belgian Congo, the abjectly notorious African colony, as far as the greed of European colonizers and the brutalization of the Africans is concerned. Death as a symbolic theme operates at two parallels levels in the story. At one level the story deals with the cruelty of the European colonizers towards their African subjects. The African in the story comes out as a black ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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