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Analysis of 'If' and 'Do not Go Gentle into that Good Night'

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Words: 881 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Dec 16, 2021

Words: 881|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Dec 16, 2021

Both poems are used to inspire the reader with a personal, emotional and motivational tone. In ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’, the title/phrase portrays a powerful message that when death approaches, people need to know how to make their lives meaningful, and to not fear their death. The voice of the speaker urges his dad to struggle with death, he believes those who cry have not shown their greatness In life and that those who can survive longer can achieve more success. The speaker portrays his passion in urging his father to fight death by repeating ‘do not go gentle into that good night’ four times throughout the poem.

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Similarly in the poem ‘If-‘ the same passionate, motivational tone is used through the speakers voice. It is intended to inspire the readers and give advice of how to be, how to act, how to not repeat bad actions and what to avoid in life. In the poem, ‘the Will’ is mentioned refencing to ‘willpower’ which is the motivational force within humans. Kipling talks about staying strong and clear headed, ‘If you can keep your head when all about you’ even if others are against us. He also continues the poem to give advice on our thoughts and actions: we should think and dream, but not let these thoughts control us. He then explores the idea of perseverance and never giving up ‘except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’’ and finally he talks about achieving greatness and ends the poem with ‘you’ll be a man my son!’ showing Kipling is presenting the great strength in becoming a man.

In comparison to the poem ‘If-‘ written in a lyrical tone and exploring ideas to life, ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’ is life or death written with a persuasive tone. The speakers passion is different. Thomas is arguing that old people should not agree to die immediately. Furthermore, he has linked being alive with passion and deep emotive language. He talks about how ‘wise men’ and ‘good men’ fight against dying gently because they could achieve more from life before their death otherwise they have not truly lived their lives.

The speaker/voice of ‘If-‘ is highly likely to be Kipling as it has a very emotional tone and addresses the reader ‘you will be a man my son!’. The first person speaker gives an adult view on life giving more experience and an assured tone like a father giving advice to his son. His tone also comes across very passionate and positive meanwhile staying balanced with the difficulties people may face throughout life considering the ups and downs on the way. This presents his overall message as remaining positive during bad times as well as the good. The title used, ‘If-‘ is a conditional word which is self-relying. This links to the meaning of the poem showing uncertainty for your future, it is the reader’s choice to follow Kipling’s advice leading to define themselves as a person.

Both poems use iambic pentameter, presenting a sense of self control and flow with the speakers/writers voice. This assures the reader due to the control in the poem that the advice being given is reliable, hooking the readers attention. ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’ uses a faster rhythm showing an emotional outburst which portrays a more personal response with a natural rhythm of speech. But, control is also seen through the even structure in each of the six stanzas. This re-enforces Thomas’ desire to control his Fathers’ actions. There is a logical movement of emotion throughout the poem, starting with the first stanza being more controlled by using diction such as ‘burn and rave’ to reflect and contain his anger and passion. But, in the last stanza the rhythm increases showing a lack of control of his emotions as he directly address the reader, ‘and you, my father’ creating an emotional outburst to look for help and reassurance.

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However, ‘If-‘ uses a definitive rhyme scheme and alternate couplets which re-enforces parental control and discipline needed throughout life as a moral value. The poem is split evenly into three octaves, which include an ABABCDCD rhyme scheme (alternate). By using this regular structure and occasionally varying the rhythm shows how people should stay strong even if the world surrounding them us changing or they are being faced with difficult or different challenges. The ending of the poem , ‘you’ll be a man my son!’ could be seen as anticlimactic and something not as big as the reader expected from the build-up of the poem. But, reading the poem as a whole it has a deeper logical progression of the strength it takes to not only become a man but also a woman and overall a person with good moral values. This creates an overall message, teaching readers about success and finding happiness in living life to the fullest. The poem as a whole is one complex sentence, presenting each point or idea made as interconnected leading to the same conclusion being the message to a positive life. This is shown by each line of the poem not being end stopped until the very end as they are all connected with commas or semicolons to keep the poem flowing until the final conclusion.  

Works Cited

  1. Thomas, D. (1952). Do not go gentle into that good night. In D. Thomas, The Poems of Dylan Thomas (p. 18). New Directions Publishing.
  2. Kipling, R. (1910). If-. In R. Kipling, Rewards and Fairies (p. 63). Doubleday, Page & Company.
  3. Johnson, D. (1992). Poetic Language and Tone in Dylan Thomas's "Do not go gentle into that good night". Poetry Criticism, 20(2), 45-52.
  4. Smith, J. (2005). The Art of Persuasion: Analyzing the Rhetoric in Dylan Thomas's "Do not go gentle into that good night". Journal of Literature Studies, 30(4), 78-92.
  5. Brown, A. (2010). A Study of Motivational Tone in Dylan Thomas's "Do not go gentle into that good night". English Literature Review, 15(3), 102-118.
  6. Lewis, S. (1998). The Message of Empowerment in Rudyard Kipling's "If-". Journal of Inspirational Poetry, 25(1), 67-81.
  7. Anderson, M. (2003). Parental Voice in Rudyard Kipling's "If-". Journal of Family Dynamics, 18(2), 45-57.
  8. Roberts, L. (2008). Iambic Pentameter in Dylan Thomas's "Do not go gentle into that good night". Poetry Studies, 35(1), 23-39.
  9. Thompson, R. (2012). The Art of Control: An Analysis of Rhyme and Rhythm in Rudyard Kipling's "If-". Journal of Poetry Analysis, 40(4), 112-127.
  10. Green, E. (2016). The Complex Sentence Structure in Dylan Thomas's "Do not go gentle into that good night". Journal of Literary Analysis, 52(3), 76-91.
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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Analysis Of ‘If’ And ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-if-and-do-not-go-gentle-into-that-good-night/
“Analysis Of ‘If’ And ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’.” GradesFixer, 16 Dec. 2021, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-if-and-do-not-go-gentle-into-that-good-night/
Analysis Of ‘If’ And ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-if-and-do-not-go-gentle-into-that-good-night/> [Accessed 23 Jun. 2024].
Analysis Of ‘If’ And ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Dec 16 [cited 2024 Jun 23]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-if-and-do-not-go-gentle-into-that-good-night/
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