How does the author of "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" convey his central message to the reader?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The central message in Dylan Thomas' poem is to fight death instead of accepting it peacefully or stoically. In the final stanza, we learn that the speaker is addressing his father who is dying. We can infer that his father is silent and unresponsive as he lies near death because the speaker begs him to weep fiercely, to curse, or to bless. To act. To fight dying. Death may be a "good night," but the speaker cannot bring himself to let his father go.

Since the poem is a villanelle, its central message is expressed in two lines of refrain: "Do not go gentle into that good night." and "Rage, rage against the dying of the light." These lines open and close the first stanza, and they appear together to conclude the poem's final stanza. Throughout the rest of the poem, each stanza ends with one or the other in alternating fashion.

Thomas further emphasizes his theme through use of the catalog technique. Stanzas two through five each give an example of men who do not accept death easily: "wise men," "good men," "wild men," and "grave men." "Grave men," of course, can be interpreted in two ways, one of them being men who are serious by nature.

In addition to other techniques, Thomas conveys his central message in the poem through its poetic structure.

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