‘The Death of the Moth” by Virginia Woolf
Death is a difficult subject for anyone to speak of, although it is a part of everyday life. In Virginia Woolf’s “The Death of the Moth”, she writes about a moth flying about a windowpane, its world constrained by the boundaries of the wood holding the glass. The moth flew, first from one side, to the other, and then back as the rest of life continued ignorant of its movements. At first indifferent, Woolf was eventually moved to pity the moth. This story shows that life is as strange and familiar as death to us all. I believe this story was well written and will critique the symbolism, characters, and the setting.
Woolf uses symbolism in her essay when she speaks of the moth and its journey towards death. Eventually the moth settles on the windowsill and Woolf forgets it until she notices it trying to move again, but this time its movements are slow and awkward. It attempts to fly but fails, and falls back down to the sill, landing on its back, tiny feet clawing at the air as it tries to right itself. Woolf reaches out to help when she realizes that it is dying stating “the helplessness of his attitude roused me. It flashed upon me that he was in difficulties; he could no longer raise himself; his legs struggled vainly. But, as I stretched out a pencil, meaning to help him to right himself, it came over me that the failure and awkwardness were the approach of death” and she was reluctant to interfere with this natural process (1178). Somehow, in the brightness of the day, the power of death was seeking this moth, and there was no way to stop it. This symbolism Woolf applies to everyday human life, making us understand that death will all happen to us one day, when it is our time. There is no escaping death when it comes for us.
The character of the moth and the way that Woolf’s story unfolds makes you, as a reader, feel as if you are there actually watching the moth die. Her descriptions of the moth’s flight and the struggle against death as he lived his life that day involves you in the...