A Comparison of Thomas Gray's Elegy (Eulogy) Written in a Country Churchyard and Bryant's Thanatopsis

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A Comparison of Thomas Gray's Elegy (Eulogy) Written in a Country Churchyard and Bryant's Thanatopsis

Thomas Gray and William Cullen Bryant both chose to write about nature and death being intertwined. Since Thomas Gray lived in a time of social injustice, he chose to use death to illustrate the problems inherent in a socially stratified society. William Cullen Bryant, on the other hand, lived in a rapidly expanding young nation that cherished the vast amounts of untouched nature and he used death to illustrate how man fits into the universal truth of the earth. However, both men believed that death rendered all men equal in that all went to their final resting place in Mother Nature's bosom. While Gray's "Elegy Written in a
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This illustrates an ideal central to the Romantics: money corrupts and therefore, the individual peasant is just as important as the king. The poor are further "insulted" by life with a "frail memorial" marking their grave while the rich have memorials of splendid futility. In the epitaph, the poet realizes that at birth "Melancholy marked him for her own" and that "He gave to Misery all he had, a tear"; he owned nothing he could give away but his own suffering and toil. Gray wishes to be remembered as a man whose "soul was sincere" and because he lived a virtuous life, "Heaven did a recompense as largely send" to reward him and all the other poor men who lead purer lives than the corrupt rich.

While Gray, like most English Romantics, illustrates the fight of the common man, "Thanatopsis" reflects the American Romantics love of nature. Bryant believes that nature reflects one's moods: "She speaks a various language...She has a voice of gladness...she glides into his darker musings" By mentioning the gamut of
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