?Fear No More? By William Shakespeare Essay, Research Paper
“Fear no more”
By William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare utilizes simplistic language to emphasize the themes in “Fear no more;” however, he exercises complex metaphors to depict the struggles one undergoes during a lifetime and as a result urges the reader to overcome all melancholic sentiments that lead one to oppose a peaceful death. The diction applied in “Fear no more” efficiently creates emphasis on specific sections of the poem. In addition, the euphonic flow used by Shakespeare illustrates the author’s serenity and resignation towards the subject at hand. In essence, Shakespeare’s “Fear no more” employs rhetorical devices such as repetition, appeal to the audience, and imagery to reveal the desired theme.
The fundamental theme of this poem is regarding the significance of succumbing to death, for after having a full life everyone must fearlessly face the end. In addition, the poem emphasizes that one should not fight against the arrival of death in any of its forms. In fact, this argument is first introduced in the title and further displayed throughout Shakespeare’s poem. In the first line of all three stanzas, the author begins with the phrase, “Fear no more,” openly showing his belief that one should willingly submit to mortality. Furthermore, the poem’s theme is displayed through the phrase “all must … come to dust.” By acknowledging that death is inevitable for all of humanity, the author attempts to emphasize his belief that one should not “fear” fate. The theme of the poem is also reinforced through repetition. For example, to emphasize his stance, the author repeats the phrase, “Fear no more” in the first line of the first, second, and third stanza of the poem. Once again this occurs with the phrase, “must… come to dust” in the fifth and sixth line of the first, second, and third stanza. This is of importance
because it reiterates that the author’s main purpose is to instill the notion that one should not struggle against mortal defeat because it will eventually come upon everyone, including those that have attained fulfillment from life.
In Shakespeare’s first stanza, the theme is applied to a wide audience that may have different fears. In this stanza Shakespeare explains that one should, “Fear not the heat o’ the sun, /Nor the furious winter’s rages; ” for we have completed our “worldly task…/ Home art gone, and [have] ta’en [our] wages.” Through these ideas, the author is stating that once one has done everything in one’s power to help the world (“Thou thy worldly task hast done”) nothing is left to do but to wait for death. In fact, he believes once death is near, there is no need to preoccupy oneself with insignificant worries, such as the changes in the elements. In addition, the poet continues by declaring that everyone, including “Golden lads and girls… must, / As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.” This statement explains that the young and wealthy (“Golden”) as well as the older and poor (“chimney-sweepers”) can not escape death. Thus, Shakespeare he is expressing the opinion that death will follow one’s life, whether good or bad, and is not something to dread because everyone will, at one point or another, have to endure it’s arrival.
Throughout the second stanza, Shakespeare continues to stress his idea by addressing other fears and types of people. For example, the author explains that one should not be fearful of other’s thoughts (“frown o’ the great”) or actions (“tyrant’s stroke”). In fact, he continues by stating that our daily routines will no longer be priorities (“Care no more to clothe and eat”) because once death arrives we will lose the ability to feel and compare the objects that surround us (“To thee the reed is as the oak”). In addition, Shakespeare states that “scepter, learning, [and] physic” will also experience demise (“must / All follow this and come to dust”). The poet’s affirmation emphasizes that death is unavoidable for everyone, including those of high status, therefore, one should not attempt to fight it. Overall, by showing that diverse groups will
have to encounter the same event, Shakespeare is able to convey his message that one should not panic when death begins to approach because it is the concluding cycle of every human’s life.
Lastly, to emphasize his position, the poet uses the third stanza to bring together the ideas of the first two stanzas; however he adds a twist that stresses the importance of this concluding stanza. For example, he asks the reader, as in the previous stanzas, not to be alarmed by nature (“lightning-flash,” the “dreaded thunder-stone,”) or by those whose careless words or actions (“slander, censure rash”) cause emotional pain. As opposed to the other stanzas, the third does not urge the reader to ignore the small trifles in life. This idea is seen as Shakespeare continues this final thought by stating, “Thou hast finished joy and moan. / All lovers young, all lovers must / Consign to thee, and come to dust.” This statement attempts to show that once one is dead one can no longer enjoy the happiness (“joy”) or the distress (“moan”) that we are allowed to experience during a lifetime; therefore, we should take advantage of the time we have left. In addition, this line further reiterates the author’s theme that all, including those that are blessed with emotional happiness (“lovers young, all lovers…”), will have to leave this world. Ultimately, the third, and final, stanza serves as a summary to the rest of the poem, successfully leaving the intended theme inculcated in the reader’s mind.
The use of imagery in Shakespeare’s “Fear no more” allows the reader to relate to the poem by permitting a view of the individual fears that the people must try to overcome. The images that are seen throughout Shakespeare’s poem are those of nature and different people as well as actions that cause emotional or physical pain. The images of people serve to characterize everyone’s differing traits, whereas, the images of nature and of careless actions represent situations that cause pain and emotional distress. For example, the words, and phrases, “Golden lads and girls” (line 5), “chimney-sweepers” (line 6), “scepter, learning, physic” (line 11) and “lovers young, all lovers” (line 17) serve to illustrate the difference in age and status of the people
that will walk to the same, inescapable path. Furthermore, the poem is endowed with images that portray (nature’s and perhaps one’s) uneasiness and affliction, such as “heat of the sun” (line 1), “furious winter’s rages” (line 2), “frown” (line 7), “tyrant’s stroke” (line 8), “lightning-flash” (line 13), “thunder-stone” (line 14), and “slander, censure rash” (line 15). These words and phrases have negative connotations; however, each is preceded by the phrase “Fear no more” which in turn highlights the poem’s theme and the significance of not being overwhelmed by
one’s fears. Thus, the imagery utilized inflicts emotion upon the reader, which in response grants him/her the ability to correlate to the poem.
On the whole, William Shakespeare utilizes effective literary tools to create a successful composition. Through language, and the reference of different age and social groups, Shakespeare creates imagery that is essential to the context of the poem. In addition, the ideas presented allow the reader to relate to the theme of the poem, which urges all to encounter death without having to fear it. For example, the powerful emotions that are granted by the poem may have been inspired by Shakespeare’s personal experiences, such as seeing the fear in a person’s eyes when they knew they were nearing death. Therefore, it is important that one does not become absorbed with melancholy or despair, but instead realizes that one should, “Fear no more, … [for we] must [all] come to dust.”
Fear no more
Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,
Nor the furious winter’s rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages.
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.
Fear no more the frown o’ the great;
Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke;
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak.
The scepter, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.
Fear no more the lightning-flash,
Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finished joy and moan.
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)