Virginia Woolf Questions and Answers

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What are some rhetorical devices found in "The Death of the Moth" by Virginia Wolf?

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Woolf seems to desire to compel us to see ourselves in the moth. Thus, one of the first devices she uses is personification of the moth itself. Personification entails the attribution of human qualities to something that is not human. She says that, despite his hybrid nature and the fact that he is "neither gay like butterflies" nor somber like the moths one sees at night, he "seemed to be content with life." To suggest that the moth feels contentment is to personify it.

Next, she explicitly states that anyone watching the moth flit back and forth across the window would become "conscious of a queer feeling of pity for him" because of the evident "zest" he seems to feel in "enjoying his meagre opportunities." Here, Woolf employs pathos, raising our sympathy and compelling us to feel something for this small creature (to whom we might normally never give a second thought).

Having elicited our sympathy for the moth, she uses a simile , saying that "it seemed as if a fibre, very thin but pure,...

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