Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas
I have utilized the methods of psychological criticism to analyze the poem. Psychological criticism is influenced by the work of Sigmund Freud which is known as psychoanalytic approach to human behavior. Freud suggested that the writings of literary writers may be a manifestation of their unconscious desires and anxieties (Shupe, Donald R.). “Do not go gentle into that good night| is a plea from a son to a father who was getting blind and dying in which he is trying to convince that death is a reality but the struggle to fight for one’s life should never end (Life, Choose). The thesis for this poem lies in the verse “old age should burn and rave at close day”. This signifies the enthusiasm and love for life even if the life going towards its logical end.
Dylan Thomas was an alcoholic himself, and died within a year of his father’s death. With his poem, he might be trying to manifest his own desire to be able to fight his deteriorating health and encourage himself to fight for his live. Of course he would wish his father long life but at the same time he seems to be curious about his own life as well. Dylan Thomas is brave enough to suggest that death in inevitable by saying “Though wise men at their end know dark is right” meaning it is wise to believe that there is an end to every living being. But in the next line “because their words had forked no lightning” he expresses his desire to live as he suggests that a person may have not been recognized for his achievements, therefore, a fight must go on to look death in the eyes and make it possible to live a bit longer to fulfill unfinished agendas and become recognized. Psychoanalytically speaking, Dylan Thomas is trying to be brave but at the same time he seems to be worried for his life and wishes he have had more time.
Dylan Thomas goes on expressing his desires by calling his father a good man and argues that good men like him should fight for their lives as they need to leave a mark in the history. He first says” Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright” meaning good mean are a few. He then goes on saying “Rage, rage against the dying of the light”. This line is a manifestation of his inner anger towards death “dying of the light”. He might be calling himself a good man and might be angry at confronting death so early in his life. It is pertinent to mention here that Dylan Thomas died at an age of 39 due to alcoholism.
“Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight” and the next line of the poem a tale of a person who has lived a life in full action without even noticing that there is an end to it. When this person realizes that his life is coming to an end, it usually too late. So Dylan Thomas emphasizes “not to go gentle into in to that good night”. Gain this is an expression of an anxiety about an uncertain future. He thinks that his life could have been spent more efficiently than being engaged with alcohol addiction. This is also a message for the readers to set a goal in life before it’s too late to set it and death is in inevitable due to old age or any other causes.
“Grave men” points to a person who is saddened by his deteriorating health, “blinding sight”. Dylan Thomas realizes that his father as a manifestation of his own self, is dying as the signs of physical health deterioration are visible. But he wants to put a life into a physically decaying body by saying “Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay”. He again expressed his frustration and anger at death and wishes he could fight death in any way to stay alive.
In the final stanza, Dylan Thomas urges his father not to give up. This could be an attempt to encourage himself not to give up and fight his circumstances to stay alive. “Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray,” is an extreme form of the manifestation of sadness and frustration in the last stanza. He seems to be hopeless and all he can do is cry and pray for life.
This poem is an account of the unconscious desires of a person who is in pain. This person is looking back at his life and wishing things to have been different throughout his life. He is not ready to give up yet and wishes for another chance at life which he would not waste just like the previous chance.
Life, Choose. “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.” (2004).
Shupe, Donald R. “Representation Versus Detection As A Model For Psychological Criticism”. The Journal Of Aesthetics And Art Criticism, vol 34, no. 4, 1976, p. 431. JSTOR, doi:10.2307/430577.