'Flowers For Algernon, And The Lesson Of The Moth'

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Authors use characters and genres to develop theme. Sometimes different genres can be used to build the same theme. In the poem, “The Lesson of the Moth,” poet Don Marquis uses the protagonist, a moth, to teach the narrator, Archy, a cockroach, what it is like to have a dream worth dying for. Similarly, Daniel Keyes, author of “Flowers for Algernon,” a short story, uses the main character, Charlie Gordon, a mentally disabled man who longs to be smart, to develop the idea that it is better to risk to achieve happiness rather than to live wondering what life could have been like. Both the poet and the author use the main character in their literary work to contribute to the idea that risking something is worth even momentary happiness. Don Marquis uses the moth in his poem, “the lesson of the moth,” to show what it is like to have a dream worth dying for. The moth’s dream is to be united with beauty, which to him, is fire. He uses Archy, a cockroach, to narrate his poem, possibly to juxtapose Archy and the moth. In doing this, Marquis emphasizes how fragile the moth is; he has wings and Archy has a protective shell. Archy witnesses the moth trying to “fry himself” (line five) on three different lights until he finds a patent cigar lighter and succeeds in killing himself. Before he dies, the moth explains that fire is very beautiful to him, and his dream is to be united with beauty. He says, “it is better to be a part of beauty/for one instant and then cease to/exist than to

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