Perceptions of death differ from different communities as well as the view of life. Death is the exit of life within a human being, which leaves a lifeless body behind. In most cases, people dispose of the body in different ways, as they want to move on to the next phase of life without the person who died and left. Life leaves the body of a human being through natural courses like disease and old age, or through personal acts like when one person kills another or an individual takes their life. When one takes the life of another, it is referred to as murder while the one who takes theirs is known to commit suicide. Despite the method used to end life, the result is death. Once a person dies, there is no chance of them coming back to life, their history becomes a past tense, and people can only remember them through the memories they created together when they were alive. Different people have various perceptions towards death with some believing that it is possible to bring back one who has died back to life despite the evidence that breathes left their bodies and is no longer referred to as human beings, but corpses. When a person dies, it is important for those left behind to understand that it is the norm of life and every individual will pass through the same channel as they exit this phase of life. Accepting and moving on helps an individual move on within a short time after a loved one passes on. It also reduces the possibility of going through a depression, which is most likely to affect the quality of life one lives after losing someone in death. Perceptions of death are important as they define how one reacts when they lose a person they loved as well as the value attached to life that motivates one to end the life of another or their own. This paper will present perceptions of death through the views of Mary Shelley Frankenstein and Oscar Wildes The Picture of Dorian Gray, as the primary texts. Therefore the main aims of the paper are:
To identify the various perceptions towards death that exist in the society
To find out the challenges people go through when they lose a loved one
To find out the value attached to life from different peoples perceptions
Shelleys perception of death in Frankenstein depict death as an end of life for an individual that tastes the bitter pill, and the beginning of misery for those left behind that loved the person who has lost their life. Victor's mother and sister, Caroline, and Elizabeth, get sick for some time. The family sought medical intervention from various sources, which would help restore Caroline and Elizabeth's lives to normalcy. However, all ideas fail, and Carline loses her life. Elizabeth survives and is nursed by her caretakers back to health. Victor is devastated by the loss of his mother as he was about to join higher learning. Psychologically, Victor is a disturbed man and does not understand how he will live his life without the affection and attention from his mother. Victor had grown up as a beloved child, and his mother had adored him. He is going through misery and indulges himself in education, which he hopes will help him reanimate any dead body with the notion that he would revive his mother. Despite the high levels of academic excellence Victor experiences and impresses his teachers with his high performance, he has an empty feeling inside his heart. Wildes publication, The Picture of Dorian Gray, challenges Shelleys perception towards death and argues that death to most people in the society meant an end to misery, gloom, and despair. It is the easiest thing to achieve when one has come to the end of their life and have lost hope in everything. For instance, Sibyl refutes to killing herself to end the heartbreak she faced when Dorian rejected her even after showing interest in her before her poor performance at the Romeo and Juliet play. Sibyl resolution to kill herself meant that she would no longer go through the emotional pain she went through as she would be dead. Dead people have no feelings.
In Shelleys Frankenstein, Victor goes through an emotional and mental breakdown when he loses his mother to the scarlet disease. He fails to comprehend the way he would face his life without the guidance he previously received from his mother. He faces the challenge of accepting and moving on by taking a different perspective towards life. For instance, his sister Elizabeth was an orphan and had been adopted in the family when Victor was younger. She had managed to live a meaningful life despite losing her biological parents at an early age. However, Wildes The Picture of Dorian Gray complicates this perception that people suffer when they lose a loved one by the actions of Dorian who feels nothing even after losing his object of desire, Sibyl, to suicide. He does not feel remorseful for having caused her death and having had romantic feelings in the past. Rundell (18) challenges the idea that people suffer after losing their loved ones in death and states that people miss the presence of an individual who lost their life. This means that since memories created are stored in the mind of an individual; it might be hard for a person to forget the time spent with the deceased person.
To find out the value attached to life from different peoples perceptions
Due to the varying perceptions towards death that exist among people in the society, person value life differently. In Shelleys Frankenstein, life is sacred, and when one is alive, they experience the warmth that comes with love and acceptance from the other people. For instance, Elizabeth experiences love her adoptive family after she lost her parents when younger. She values her mother and is also saddened by her demise. Further, after Victor loses his mother, he is willing to do anything within his power to come up with the knowledge that would help restore her life. This justifies the value attached to life and the perception of death as a disruption to enjoying love. However, Wildes publication The Picture of Dorian Gray complicates this perception by presenting the argument that death is an easy thing to execute as the value attached to life is low. People kill others with ease and have no remorse. In addition, others kill themselves, as their value for life is insignificant. Burkett (579) argues that most people value romantic feelings and relationships than they do to their lives, which means that most persons would end their lives if their object of love rejected them. For instance, in The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dorian kills himself in the end as he is unable to forgive himself for the suffering he had caused other people and even ended lives of others in search of his happiness. Davis (198) culminates Wildes notion that death is easy to achieve as people have the choice of withstanding the challenges they face in life or taking an easy way out and killing themselves.
In conclusion, this paper has met the aims of the paper specified in the beginning by examining the various perceptions towards death that exist in the society as displayed by actions of different characters in various texts. Shelleys Frankenstein indicates that people valued life more than Wildes The Picture of Dorian Gray, where Dorian ended the lives of others and influenced individuals to kill themselves since he did not consider life sacred. In addition, Victors perception of death in Frankenstein means the end to a long-term relationship with a loved one and the beginning of misery for the ones left behind. On the other hand, Dorian perceives death as the beginning of an end to misery, pain, and guilt experienced in life. This justifies why there so many people in Wildes The Picture of Dorian Gray, end their lives while others are killed after engaging in a conflict. Some of the ramifications that extend beyond the scope of this paper are life after death. Future research can consider looking into the perceptions that people have towards what happens to individuals that die.
Burkett, Andrew. "Mediating Monstrosity: Media, Information, and Mary Shelley's" Frankenstein"." Studies in Romanticism 51.4 (2012): 579-605.
Davis, Helen H. "" I seemed to hold two lives": Disclosing Circumnarration in Villette and The Picture of Dorian Gray." Narrative 21.2 (2013): 198-220.
Rundell, John. "Modernity, Humans and Animals-Tensions in the Field of The Technical-Industrial Imaginary." New Formations 76.76 (2012): 8-20.
Shelley, Mary. frankenstein. Macmillan, 1994.
Wilde, Oscar. The picture of dorian gray. Penguin, 2003.
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