A Comparison Of Thomas Gray's Elegy (Eulogy) Written In A Country Churchyard And Bryant's Thanatopsis

1827 words - 7 pages

A Comparison of Thomas Gray's Elegy (Eulogy) Written in a Country Churchyard and Bryant's Thanatopsis  

   Thomas Gray and William Cullen Bryant both chose to write about nature and death being intertwined. Since Thomas Gray lived in a time of social injustice, he chose to use death to illustrate the problems inherent in a socially stratified society. William Cullen Bryant, on the other hand, lived in a rapidly expanding young nation that cherished the vast amounts of untouched nature and he used death to illustrate how man fits into the universal truth of the earth. However, both men believed that death rendered all men equal in that all went to their final resting place in Mother Nature's bosom. While Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" comes across as a social commentary on the English peasants and Bryant's "Thanatopsis" serves as a catalog of American Romantic beliefs, both believe that one must listen to nature, that death makes all men equal, and that man returns to nature after death.

To compare how the poems minor themes are similar, one must first understand their major themes' differences. "Elegy" differs so greatly from "Thanatopsis" because they came from vastly different times and countries. Gray wrote "Elegy" in eighteenth century England after the death of one of his friends. Influenced by the English Romantics like Gray, Bryant, who spent much of his time out in the wild, wrote "Thanatopsis" in praise of nature's splendor. "Elegy" appears at first to be solely about death but emerges as a social commentary on the plight of the poor. Gray first explains how the commoners delight in the simple life of working in the fields and enjoying their families while "Chill Penury" held them back from greatness. The peasants "lot forbade" them from achieving such atrocities of the rich and powerful such as "shutting the gates of mercy on mankind" because "Their sober wishes never learned to stray." Gray believes that even though the poor could not blossom, they tend to enjoy simple pleasures: "His soul was sincere" and "He gained from Heaven('twas all he wished) a friend." By saying, "Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined", "They kept the noiseless tenor of their way," Gray demonstrates his belief that the poor live more pious lives than the rich. This illustrates an ideal central to the Romantics: money corrupts and therefore, the individual peasant is just as important as the king. The poor are further "insulted" by life with a "frail memorial" marking their grave while the rich have memorials of splendid futility. In the epitaph, the poet realizes that at birth "Melancholy marked him for her own" and that "He gave to Misery all he had, a tear"; he owned nothing he could give away but his own suffering and toil. Gray wishes to be remembered as a man whose "soul was sincere" and because he lived a virtuous life, "Heaven did a recompense as largely send" to reward him and all the other poor men who lead purer...

Find Another Essay On A Comparison of Thomas Gray's Elegy (Eulogy) Written in a Country Churchyard and Bryant's Thanatopsis

Gray's “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”

2257 words - 9 pages “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” is a poem composed by Thomas Gray over a period of ten years. Beginning shortly after the death of his close friend Richard West in 1742, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” was first published in 1751. This poem’s use of dubbal entendre may lead the intended audience away from the overall theme of death, mourning, loss, despair and sadness; however, this poem clearly uses several literary devices to

Death in a Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Grey

669 words - 3 pages thing that is remembered is how hard the person worked, how much they contributed to the common good of society. A famous writer and poet seemed to come to this conclusion in the end. Thomas Grey’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard addresses death as being the great equalizer, the simple people are the ones who matter in society, and only certain things are left behind that really matter after death. Initially, Grey states that death is the

'Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray: "The Paths of Glory Lead but to the Grave."

624 words - 2 pages The poem 'Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray glorifies and sympathizes with the common village people who are not are not famous because of the simple pastoral lives they lead. It is said that this poem was written in the memory of the poet's dear friend West who was also a simpleton.The poem starts with the poet setting the theme of the poem. He describes the time in the evening when the framers wrap up their work to go home

Good Poor And Forgotten Country People..... Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard

1185 words - 5 pages Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" was first published in 1751. Gray may, however, have begun writing the poem in 1742, shortly after the death of his close friend Richard West. An elegy is a poem which laments the dead. Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" is noteworthy in that it mourns the death not of great or famous people, but of common men. The speaker of this poem sees a country churchyard at sunset, which

Objectification in An Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard

1389 words - 6 pages is the only means for the poor and the land to be freed from society. Works Cited: Gray, Thomas. "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard." in Damrosch, David. The Longman Anthology of British Literature: Volume 1C The Restoration and the 18th Century. New York: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc. 1999.

Elegy Written in a Church Courtyard by Thomas Grey

1538 words - 6 pages different messages. Figurative language can deepen the meaning of a message, while form can give the reader a hint about the poem’s theme. Meticulously choosing the proper form for a poem is vital to conveying an author’s message. For example, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” is written in Elegy form. An elegy is a type of lyric poem used to memorialize and mourn a person’s death. Grey uses the elegy form to memorialize and mourn all of

Milton's Elegy Vs. Gray's Elegy. Through The Use Of Imagery, and Pathetic Fallacy, Argues The Superiority Of Milton's Elegy

887 words - 4 pages Often, John Milton's Elegy and Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" have been compared. Many believe that Milton's Elegy influenced Gray's Elegy. While the two Elegies' have a lot in common, they are still very different. Using literary elements, such as imagery, tone, and the use of pathetic fallacy, this essay will show that Milton's Elegy is superior to Gray's.Imagery is very important in a poem, novel, or elegy. It allows

A Comforting View of Death in William Cullen Bryant’s "Thanatopsis"

661 words - 3 pages Chuck Palahniuk once said, “The first step to eternal life, is you have to die.” In William Cullen Bryant’s poem “Thanatopsis”, he does not mention eternal life or anything religious, but speaks about death. He tells his readers that death is a natural thing and they should not worry about it. William Cullen Bryant, in his poem “Thanatopsis”, portrays a comforting view of death. Throughout the poem, Bryant encourages his readers by explaining

Custom Written Essays: A Comparison of Hamlet's Gertrude and Ophelia

2010 words - 8 pages A Comparison of Gertrude and Ophelia of Hamlet       Gertrude and Ophelia occupy the leading roles for females in the Shakespearean drama Hamlet. As women they share many things in common: attitudes from others, shallow or simple minds and outlooks, etc. This essay will delve into the various facets of what they hold in common.   John Dover Wilson explains in What Happens in Hamlet how the prince holds both of the women in disgust

A comparison of Blake's "The Lamb" and Thomas' "Fern Hill"

930 words - 4 pages inexperience, since the situation of a child talking to an animal is a believable one. "Fern Hill", although written in a more mature form, gives the audience a clear feeling of the emotions being felt and of the actions being played out in the poem. The poem is full of color and nature. Green reinforces the image of Thomas' youth and joy at being on his farm in the spring and summer. The sun, grass and hay also give us ideas of specific scenery. In

A review of "Thanatopsis" by William Cullen Bryant

580 words - 2 pages The poem, "Thanatopsis," written by , is a wonderful literary work which explores the often controversial questions of death. Within his well written lines Bryant attempts to show the relationship between death's eternal questions and the ongoing cycle of nature and life. Upon concluding the poem many readers are able to reaffirm their faith of an afterlife, while others are left aimlessly pondering this strange possibility.Throughout the poem

Similar Essays

Dialogic And Formal Analysis Of Thomas Gray's Elegy (Eulogy) Written In A Country Churchyard

584 words - 2 pages Dialogic and Formal Analysis of Thomas Gray's Elegy (Eulogy) Written in a Country Churchyard By combining the formal and dialogical approaches, patterns and voices within the text seemingly interplay and overlap to reveal a deeper sense of the author's intentions. While the formalistic analysis focuses on the text and the unfolding themes within, the dialogical analysis recognizes "...the essential indeterminacy of meaning outside of the

Dialogical And Formalistic Approach To Thomas Gray's Elegy (Eulogy) Written In A Country Churchyard

830 words - 3 pages Dialogical and Formalistic Approach to Elegy (Eulogy) Written in a Country Churchyard Elegy in a Country Courtyard, by Thomas Gray, can be looked at through two different methods. First the Dialogical Approach, which covers the ability of the language of the text to address someone without the consciousness that the exchange of language between the speaker and addressee occurs. (HCAL, 349) The second method is the Formalistic Approach

Feminist Reading Of Thomas Gray's Elegy (Eulogy) Written In A Country Churchyard

586 words - 2 pages Feminist Reading of Thomas Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard   While Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" overtly deals with the distinction between social class and the opportunity for greatness, the poem also contains a subtle yet strong message against the dominant role of men over women in society. Gray's tone throughout the poem is permeated with regret and a sense of something lost, voicing his opinions

Thomas Gray's Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard

1445 words - 6 pages Sadhana Jacob ENG 223 Professor Dhariwal May 9th, 2014 Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” is significant in that it not only mourns the death of common men but also examines how they ought to be remembered after their death. The speaker does not create a separation between rich and poor but regards everyone as equal. His main goal is to depict the reality that everyone must die. This poem carries a moralistic side about