The Intersection of Life and Death

Another view of Glendalough, the site that inspired my research topic

Even as the quarter comes to a close, I still find myself intrigued by the explorations and discoveries from Week One. I virtually visited Glendalough and noticed several juxtapositions between the beautiful green landscape and the eerie cemetery. I became intrigued by the stark contrast between life and death, questioning how natural beauty could still exist at a site for the dead, how new life could stem from loss. I kept these questions in mind as I dove into the course reading and found that several of the authors we’ve studied explore similar topics in their own writing. For my research paper, I’m choosing to write about the intersection of life and death. I plan on close reading passages from W.B. Yeats’ and James Joyce’s works, specifically Yeats’ “The Wild Swans at Coole” and “The Sisters” and “The Dead” from Joyce’s Dubliners. Each of these texts stood out to me because of the way they portray the passage of time from both a youthful and aging perspective. In each of these texts, the concept of death is complex, and it often consumes its characters’ thoughts and feelings. I also want to tie in the evocative imagery that often complements these attitudes toward death. In “The Wild Swans at Coole,” the speaker depicts the swans as if they are the epitome of youth and immortality and the surrounding nature as if it is fleeting and ephemeral. I’m very interested in connecting these literary concepts with the city of Dublin and the overarching view of life and death amongst the Irish in the early 20th century. My objective is to delve into more extensive research about Irish culture and how that reflects society’s views on the celebration of life and their specific customs, weaving the topics of life and death together.

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