What is the theme of The Moth Signal?

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beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The theme of the poem, “The Moth-Signal (On Egdon Heath)” by Thomas Hardy, is of broken hearts and the death of love. In the poem, a couple watches as a moth dies and burns in candle wax. Their conversation is forlorn as they speak of the transition of one season to another before the husband goes back to reading his history book thus ending the communication between the two. The wife walks outside where she meets an unknown ghostly being with whom she converses. As they speak, she expresses the thought that she might be better off dead like the ghost instead of staying in a loveless marriage. In a simile, she compares herself to the moth.

And were I as the moth is

It might be better far

For one whose marriage troth is

Shattered as potsherds are!

She feels her marriage is broken and loveless. The ghost notes that hearts are still broken as they were in his days on the earth.

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