A Comforting View of Death in William Cullen Bryant’s "Thanatopsis"

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Chuck Palahniuk once said, “The first step to eternal life, is you have to die.” In William Cullen Bryant’s poem “Thanatopsis”, he does not mention eternal life or anything religious, but speaks about death. He tells his readers that death is a natural thing and they should not worry about it. William Cullen Bryant, in his poem “Thanatopsis”, portrays a comforting view of death. Throughout the poem, Bryant encourages his readers by explaining that in death they are not alone, that death, like life, is a natural process, and that they will be among some of the finest people who walked the earth. Bryant uses the fact that we are not alone in death to comfort his readers. Through this, he explains that when people die, they will be …show more content…
In addition to Bryant’s portrayal of death as comforting, he also depicts it as a part of nature. Bryant explains that death, like life, is a part of nature, which was a loved and cherished aspect of the nineteenth century. In the period of Romanticism, nature was an important ideal; it was viewed as the source for everything. In “Thanatopsis”, Bryant uses nature as a comfort zone, saying that when one dies, they will become a part of nature. He says that the bodies will be used to nurture the earth. Bryant also mentions that we once were made as a part of nature and that people will die as a part of it as well. He states: “…and lost each human trace, surrending up thine individual being shalt thou go to mix forever with the elements.” Bryant is saying that bodies will decay and eventually become one with the earth and nature. Along with becoming a part of nature, Bryant explains that the deceased people will be with some of the finest people who walked the earth. In order to make his readers feel ultimately comfortable, Bryant also says that when everyone dies, they will be with some of the finest people who walked the earth. By the expression “finest people”, Bryant means all the important figures and contributors in history. He says that people will be resting in the same place as these figures are: in the earth. He uses this to comfort his readers by saying that by dying, they
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