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How does Yeats present death in The Man and the Echo?

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Introduction

How does Yeats present death in ?The Man and the Echo?? The ?Man and the Echo?, written in 1938 just months before Yeats?s death, is a poem heavily associated with regret, philosophy, and death. The dominating theme of the poem seems to be death, and Yeats uses a variety of techniques to portray his thoughts and feelings about it. The poem begins with the image that Yeats is trapped in an isolated cave, and the effect this creates is that it reflects ?Man?s? effort to control the consequences of his voice. The fact that Yeats goes to a bottom of a put to get away from the world could suggest that he is ridden with guilt and regret, and is preparing himself for death. Evidence for this guilt is that he rhetorically asks whether ?that play of mine send out men the English shot? or ?Did words of mine put too great strain on that woman?s reeling brain?(referring to Margo Collins). Man questions the effect of his written work on readers and is plagued with guilt for events his work potentially caused. He worries that his words caused negative action, such as inspiring men to go to war, and failed to cause positive ...read more.

Middle

It is as if Yeats, after hearing the echo, feels the need to justify his actions and explain himself. He goes on to explain why he should clean his slate. Yeats describes how ?there can be no work so great which cleans man?s dirty slate?- telling us that Yeats believed that whatever somebody does in life, however good it is, it can never ?pay back? and ?make up for? the things man has done in the past. This further highlights Yeat?s attitude to wrongdoing. Yeats states that he disapproves of the use of alcohol, drugs and love to lessen the pains of life, and says that no matter what disadvantages you have with your body, you should be thankful that you have still have it. He states that giving into disease or committing suicide is pure cowardice, and one should instead bare the hardship and toils of life. This contrasts greatly to one of his previous poem, ?An Irish Airman?, where he seems to believe that death is a way out of the meaningless and ?wasted breath? of life. Another comparison you could make is on the topic of life after death. ...read more.

Conclusion

He confirms that he has ?lost the theme?, due to the echo interrupting him, tempting him into death. He finishes the poem with the image of a ?stricken rabbit?, which interrupts his trail of philosophical thought, and he uses the image of the rabbit to show its vulnerability, and to show that he may one day end up as helpless as the rabbit. There is no echo at the end of the third stanza, which could symbolise the fading/dying of Yeats, or that Yeats is at peace with himself. To conclude, we can see in this poem Yeats?s thoughts at this time- he feels full of guilt and regret, but his views on the essence of life are portrayed in a very philosophical manner. The role of the echo is very important, we see how it interrupts the carefully structured rhyme scheme and repeats Yeats? words but out of context- Echo interrupts him twice, both times encouraging him to give in to death immediately, but Yeats resists, and we learn that the Echo is merely a reverberation of Yeats?s own voice and that perhaps Yeats?s selective hearing of echo?s(his own) words represent a desire to give in to death without dealing with all the past his regret and guilt-ridden mind thinks is necessary. ...read more.

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