The Death of a Moth
It is a mild summer day and Virginia Woolf is luxuriating in it, enjoying the various goings-on of man and nature that are within her view. The world around her is brimming with life, and she’s in a relaxed and observant mood. In all this activity, her eyes espy an insignificant moth that’s caught up in its own dance as it flitters from one side of the window pane to the next. The moth evokes a sense of pity in her. With so much of life pulsating around her, it seems to her that the insignificant moth has such a small part to play in it and such limited horizons.
After watching him for a while, pity is replaced by wonder. “There was something marvellous as well as pathetic about him. It was as if someone had taken a tiny bead of pure life and decking it as lightly as possible with down and feathers, had set it dancing and zig–zagging to show us the true nature of life.” She actually begins to admire the little moth who it seems to her is displaying the vigor of life to the full extent of its capacity. When finally the little creature exhausts itself to immobility, the author is moved to sympathy. She is tempted to assist him, but an awareness of how futile that would be stops her. She realizes that its death is inevitable. After a final surge of agitation in an attempt to resist death, the moth surrenders to death.
Reading this essay made me think about how thin the line is between life and death. One moment someone or something can be brimming with life, the next moment it is dead. Death is inevitable. It comes to all. But just like that little moth, we should revel in life for as long as we have it. And when death does eventually come, I hope I can meet it with as much dignity as that little creature did.