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Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

by Dylan Thomas

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What is the tone of "Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night"?

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The tone of "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" is one of defiance, specifically towards death.

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A poem's tone is expressed through the attitude or emotional state of its speaker. "Do Not Go Gentle into That God Night" has an unusual tone, being defiant towards death rather than accepting or resigned.

The conventional poem about death often urges the reader and whomever the speaker is addressing to face death with gentle acceptance as God's will and as a transition to a better place where they will be greeted by loved ones. However, the speaker in this poem angrily denounces the idea of peacefully accepting one's end.

Using apostrophe, which is the direct address of an absent person or object, the speaker tells his father not to die in a "gentle" way. Instead, he urges his father to defy death. The speaker repeats the refrain:

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

The speaker's grief and lack of acceptance of losing his father is revealed in his tone of fierce advice to him to fight as hard as he can to stay alive. Active, fiery images communicate this defiant tone. The speaker urges his father to be like "wild men" who "caught and sang the sun in flight." He then invokes the image of

Blind eyes [that] could blaze like meteors and be gay.

By using examples of other men who fought to stay alive in fiery ways, the speaker expresses his desire that his father mount the same kind of fierce resistance.

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The tone of Dylan Thomas's "Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night" can best be determined by its last stanza. In the last stanza of the poem, we realize that the speaker of the poem is addressing his dying father. The tone here is desperate pleading as the speaker urges his father not "to go gentle into that good night" but to "rage, rage against the dying of the light." We realize that up to this point the speaker has been giving examples of various types of men--wise men, good men, grave men, wild men--all of whom refuse to believe that their lives have reached fulfillment and completion. These examples are all used to persuade the speaker's father that he should continue to fight to live, that he should not passively resign himself to death, that there still is unfinished work to be done.

The tone of the poem throughout is loving, sad, and insistent, becoming more and more intense as the speaker progresses to the end when he directly addresses his father. He deeply wants any emotional response from his father--"curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray." The speaker refuses to accept the fact that the struggle against death may be too much for the father and demands that the father do more to battle sickness and old age. The speaker is not able to let his father die.

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What is the tone, mood and setting of the poem "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night"?

Tone and mood are often confusing terms. Tone is the author's attitude toward the work; we can used words like positive, negative, sarcastic, critical, and sympathetic, for example,to describe tone.

Mood, on the other hand, pertains to the emotional atmosphere in the work. Sad, happy, melancholy, and delighted are words that can describe mood.

The exact setting for this Thomas poem is unknown except that the speaker is at the bedside of his father who is dying. The tone (often referred to as voice in a poem) is urgent; he wants his father to fight against death, to "rage against the dying of the light." As he sits next to his dying father whom he loves, his mood is a mixture of despair ("What if he should actually die now?" he may ask himself) and anger ("How can this be happening to my father?" he may question.).

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What is the mood of "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night"?

"Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" has a defiant mood. The speaker is imploring his aged father to "rage" against impending death rather than to passively accept it. By requesting that his father fight death, the speaker is not suggesting he give into the delusion that he can live forever or that he should be bitter or resentful, but that he should affirm life to the last. As a result, the poem takes on a defiant yet somber mood, with the speaker accepting that death is inevitable while still desperately hoping his father will muster what little energy he can while he is still alive.

The mood is conjured both through the poem's message and its imagery. The speaker tries to get his point across to his father by listing the responses of different kinds of men to death, all of which involve fighting. By observing that wise men, good men, wild men, and grave men all react to encroaching death with defiance, he is hoping to set a standard for his father. The imagery evokes awe-inspiring natural phenomena: "Forked" lightning, blazing meteors, and waves are all used to describe the attitude and deeds of dying men. Unlike more traditional poetry about death, which tends to link such an event with peace and stillness, Dylan Thomas is using bright light and dramatic movement to depict dying as a chance for individuals to shine brightly one last time before that light finally expires.

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What is the tone of the poem "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night"?

Tone describes the poet's attitude toward the subject of the work. Given the speaker's position, as someone who fears that he is about to lose his father to death, who begs his father, who is "there on the sad height" to "Curse, bless, [him] now with [...] fierce tears," the poet seems rather sympathetic to the speaker. The speaker seems to desperately want his father to resist "the dying of the light" and to "burn and rave" rather than go quietly into the darkness of his final rest. The speaker spends much of the poem detailing the different ways that different types of people fight against death and refuse to go gently, hoping to inspire his own father to do so as well. Wise men, good men, wild men, grave men: they all rage against death. However, there's also this sense that, rage as they might, no one can successfully resist death; it is inevitable, and this leads to a further tone of inevitability and even resignation.

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What is the tone of the poem "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night"?

In a word:  defiant.

The speaker of the poem is pitting the power of life against the power of death as his father lays dying,  the elder ready to succumb to the force that is larger than he.

The son, however, is still full of the "green fuse that drives the flower"  (the subject of another Thomas' poem).   The power of life is still coursing through the younger man's veins.   He can hardly believe that the vibrancy he feels could possibly wane so much that its heat could fail to overcome the coldness of death. 

Thus, the speaker urges his father, alternately, in each stanza to:

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

and to resist the frigid hand of death.  The speaker orders his patriarch (possibly out of fear that his own pulsing life-force may also one day be subject to decline) to resist with all his might, saying, over and over:

Do not go gentle into that good night.

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