Merry Wanderer of the Night + virginia woolf

Awesome Essays: The Death of the Moth

The Death of the Moth is a short essay by Virginia Woolf, which I recently read for my nature writing class. It seems to be rather popular though, because I saw that it is also in Phillip Lopate's The Art of the Personal Essay. The essay is a rumination on life and death, but we see it through a moth. In the beginning, the moth flies quickly, encompassing all the energy in the world to do his fancy acrobatics. But that energy can only go for so long, and eventually the moth must face death. Virginia watches, wanting to help him, but knows that it is inevitable. Death is much too strong. In the end she says, "Just as life had been strange a few minutes before, so death was now as strange."

In nature, I feel like many of us have had this experience. We have seen an animal or insect die and we wish we could do something, but it is inevitable. Where I grew up there were several deer who were frequently hit by cars. You wish you could do something to make it stop, but there just anything you can do. And this is often how we see death of our friends and family. It's painful to watch it happen and it is a great reminder that we all must meet our ends. Do we want to help them live for them, or do we want to help them live so we can convince ourselves that we are stronger than death?

You can download a PDF of The Death of the Moth at the link, and I would really encourage you to read it because it is very short. It should only take you about five minutes to read it. If you do take the time to read it please come back with your thoughts. Some things to think about as you read the essay might be: What does the moth represent? How does Woolf's view of life and death change over the course of the essay, if it does? How does the essay make you feel about life and death?

I'd love to hear your responses! Also, I'm hosting a readalong of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, so check that out and if you enjoy this weekly post you might want to check out this week's children's book Thursday vlog about the Curious Garden.

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Awesome Essays: The Death of the Moth + virginia woolf