In the poem “The Lesson of The Moth”, Don Marquis tells a story of a moth, an insect that have a strange habit of being attracted to the bright light. The story is being told by a fictional cockroach named Archy who is reincarnated author. The cockroach finds the moth trying to break into a light bulb to get the light inside; when he asks why he is doing this, the moth gives an incredibly profound statement: “It is better to be a part of beauty for one instant and then cease to exist than to exist forever and never be a part of beauty.” (Marquis 188). To me, that is almost what life is about. If we do not have a real reason to live, then it all seems rather pointless.
One of the major symbols in the poem is the flame in which the moth is willing to die for. It implies that there are things that certain people are willing to do even if it may cost them their lives. The cockroach in the poem represents all the people who live their lives very carefully to ensure a long one. The moth symbolizes all the people who don’t. Both the views of the cockroach and the moth are trying to accomplish the same thing: a better life. The cockroach wishes to live his life with half of the happiness but twice as long, while the moth, on the opposite, would rather live its life to the fullest even if it means to be cut short.
When we first read this poem, we may walk away and think that the poet is pretty strange, or doesn’t make any sense at all. But after we let it sink and really start to think about what it’s saying, it really makes much more sense. For me, after it sorted itself out in my head, it made me start thinking about a lot of things. One of the biggest was: “Why are we here? And what are we doing?” This poem also made me somewhat sad, even though there is nothing I could do about it. It made me want to have a purpose in life. I wanted to have something that I would be so devoted to that I would even be willing to give my life to. It also made me think that sometimes we just have to let go of ourselves and do whatever we want, regardless of the consequences. “But at times we get tired of using it we get bored with the routine” (Marquis 188). The author used pathos to create an emotional appeal that the “routine” of normal life is non-excite and it makes we get bored of repeating it. Without change, life becomes dull and monotonous. Can’t we enjoy the croaking of the frog? For enjoyment, there must be variety .We enjoy the sky because it exhibits a variety of color in different tones. Whether it is taste, color, sound or smell, we want variety. Man’s genius consists of his adding to the variety. But for this ever-growing variety, life would become so unbearable and the earth would become a prison. “It is better to be happy for a moment and be burned up with beauty than to live a long time and be bored all the while” (Marquis 188).
In this quote, the author uses the logo to argue that it’s better to live a high-status life for a while rather than staying our head low for the rest of our life. Personally, I feel that that was the best expression of the word that anyone could have ever thought of; life is misery, and any individual who refuses to grow will get swallow up by life. If we have one opportunity, to see everything we ever wanted in one moment, why shouldn’t we capture it? Indeed, danger may come hand-in-hand with opportunity, especially in a crisis. Danger is posed greatly if we fail to understand a situation, and when we act in ignorance to our awareness of it. It is out to hurt, to destroy and to disrupt a person’s confidence and life. This will always be somewhat scary, but to live one life to it’s fullest we always have to take some risks. This is where self-confident is so important.
If having a successful life was without risk, then everyone would have successful lives. However, not everything in a crisis is as adverse as it appears to be, despite the great danger posed in the situation, opportunities are often extended. As one saying goes, “When one door closes, another one opens”; anyone who realizes that these opportunities when taken may be the solution of the crisis problem, they will onto the road of gleaming success. “But at the same time I wish there was something I wanted as badly as he wanted to fry himself” (Marquis 188); we do not only have to be smart and mature enough in the thinking of tackling the opportunity, we also has to possess a great deal of determination, fortitude and will power in order for success to reign in the final showdown. “I do not agree with him myself, I would rather have half the happiness and twice the longevity” (Marquis 188). We could see clearly the ethos in this quote: the author, being a cockroach, doesn’t agree with the idea of shining for a while then be burned up, and he choose the longevity over the happiness. I don’t agree with author, you know why? Too often many of us go through our lives on autopilot, without even knowing it. You wake up in the morning, and then do the same old rituals. You go to the office or to school. You meet the same people, do the same job, and travel the same road. Next day, same story. We just let each day pass like the one before it. And when we reach old age, we might look back on life with “I should haves” and regrets.
“The Lesson of the Moth” explains not only why moths always want to “immolate” themselves on lights, but also reveals a philosophy on life in a humorous way. The moth’s philosophy ironically made sense, because to live without ever experiencing something beautiful is truly torture. The extreme consequences of death with beauty or “longevity” without beauty are hard to decide between. The moth also explains how human beings used to be “come easy, go easy” but have become too civilized and stuck-up to enjoy themselves thoroughly. The moth says, “our attitude towards life is come easy, go easy, we are like human beings used to be before they became too civilized to enjoy themselves” (Marquis 188), the moth is right for the most part about humans being too civilized, but there are the few, the proud, the ones who dare people to drop all seriousness and go out and have fun. The people with the most money should be having the most fun, but they seem to just be too civilized to have a good time. The moth has a real good spin on a serious issue and yet makes the reader laugh while reading it.
“The Lesson of the Moth” is a well-constructed story with excellent ideas that is vividly realistic. The narrative moves at a pace to engage and captivate the reader without making the story just a rush to get to the last line. The writing is thoughtful to makes sure that the reader will savor and think about the events presented. This poet is an excellent exploration of a philosophy on life that is well worth thinking about.