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V. Woolf: Building Vocabulary a. You became aware, in fact, of a strange feeling of pity for him. (ISR) b. As he crossed the pane, I imagine that a thread…(ISR)

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Presentation on theme: "V. Woolf: Building Vocabulary a. You became aware, in fact, of a strange feeling of pity for him. (ISR) b. As he crossed the pane, I imagine that a thread…(ISR)"— Presentation transcript:


2 V. Woolf: Building Vocabulary a. You became aware, in fact, of a strange feeling of pity for him. (ISR) b. As he crossed the pane, I imagine that a thread…(ISR) c. You are likely to forget all about life, seeing it humped and shined and taxed and burdened so that it has to move with the greatest care and dignity. (ISR)

3 V. Woolf: Building Vocabulary D. It dawned on me that he was in trouble… (ISR)

4 V. Woolf: Ideas 1. The “vigour” of the scene outside seems also to animate the moth because compared to the “possibilities of pleasure” that the day offered, it seemed pitiful to “have only a moth’s part in life” (2)

5 V. Woolf: Ideas 2. Because he is so small, she comes to think of him as representing a “bean of pure life” (3)

6 Woolf: Ideas 3. What we see of “life” can seem so hemmed in that it hardly seems life at all

7 Woolf: Ideas 4. Because other things distract us from the purity and simplicity of life; we see life “humped and bossed and garnished and cumbered so that it has to move with the greatest circumspection and dignity.”

8 Woolf: Ideas 5. Whereas at first the moth was vigorous and full of energy, now he is weakening in the struggle against death. “The helplessness of his attitude roused me. It flashed upon me that he was in difficulties…” (4)

9 Woolf: Ideas 6. She looked “as if for the enemy against which he struggled” (5). Literally, it is noon. But Woolf sees it as the world’s energy, somehow bearing down threateningly on the tiny moth.

10 Woolf: Ideas 7. The insistence on struggling to hold on to life against the vastness of the power of death, which is set against him.

11 Woolf: Ideas 8. Death seems to her as full of wonder and mystery as life.

12 Woolf: Techniques 1. A. It was a pleasant morning in mid- September. 1. B. The energy outside also inspired the tiny moth at the window, who was “little or nothing but life. 1. C. There was something marvelous as well as pathetic about him.

13 Woolf: Techniques 1. D. After forgetting about him, when I noticed him again he seemed suddenly on his last legs. 1. E. His last protest was superb and mysterious; but no sooner had he died, than the huge power that overcame him also seemed strange. (ISR)

14 Woolf: Techniques 2. The essay has an implicit thesis statement. This thesis statement is advanced by both narrative line—from insignificance to animation to death— and the writer’s reflections, the key steps captured more or less in the outline of the essay.

15 Woolf: techniques 3. Time passing is marked by the changing scene outside the window, and by the fitful attention of the writer to the moth. Continuity is established by tracing the activity, the fate, of the moth.

16 Woolf: techniques 4. The image of the rooks flying off and onto the tree branches as resembling a huge net beautifully captures what huge flocks of birds circling actually look like. The image at once captures what wee see and, by making it momentarily strange, brings us to see something commonplace anew. (continued)

17 Woolf: techniques 4. Similarly, her central image, of the moth as “a tiny bead of pure life,” plays on the idea of purity as in a pure drop of water, on the idea of something distilled to its essence, so that although the moth is not liquid yet we grasp him to be an essence.

18 Woolf: techniques 5. The writer is sitting by a window. She sees the “hay-coloured” wings of the moth, and the hay in the mid- September fields. She feels the “vigour” of external life, the light, the birds, the season—as something huge, a force rolling from the heavens and across the fields. (continued)

19 Woolf: techniques 5. Moreover, she traces the changes outdoors in order to track the life journey of the moth. Repeated elements of description—the rooks, say—and metaphor help establish a sense of continuity as well as development.

20 Woolf: techniques 6. The essay conveys a sense of increasing attentiveness and awe. The faintly languid opening, a bit reminiscent of Keats’ “To Autumn”, casual and even forgetful sharpens significantly at the close as the writer concentrates on what seems an elemental struggle. The writer now watches in awe, “wonder”. (continued)

21 Woolf: techniques 6. But these relations between life and death are rehearsed in each paragraph of the essay—the life force, huge but animating what is tiny; the unequal struggle between something tiny, yet pure, and the vastness of Fate; the majesty of the human adventure, just the same as the moth’s, an unequal struggle between puny Man and that which no living thing can overcome.

22 Woolf: patterns The essay constantly compares and contrasts the moth to other things and conditions—to things of different sizes, such as the window, or the writer’s pencil; to the general condition of life, in the external scene, in the heart of the writer. So the differences and similarities between the moth and the world of the moth, which includes us, of course, are constantly being explored.

23 Woolf: Exploring ideas 2. The definite article “the” bestows the status of a general instance on this particular death. Without the initial “the” this particular death remains an isolated instance, instead of a particular example of a general condition.

24 Woolf: Exploring Ideas 3. The writer sees death with a mixture of woe, wonder, and certain wryness. Death is “a power of such magnitude” and “so great a force” yet it is also as “strange” as the life force, just as much a part of nature. Having crossed over into death, the moth does not look dreadful or frightening, but rather “composed” and uncomplaining. The final words of the essays, the words Woolf gives the dead moth to speak, are quaint rather than portentous or ghoulish.

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