SWIFT: Gulliver’s Travels (Death and the Great Books)
Is this the way human beings act? Houyhnhnms express neither joy nor grief at their departure. This should lead us to reflect on the human way of dying. Here are some readings in the Great Books series that deal with the universal issue of death and dying.
Chekhov: Rothschild’s Fiddle - A Russian coffin maker reflects on his wasted life.
Conrad: Heart of Darkness - The very talented Kurtz dies in the backwaters of Africa.
Bible: Genesis - Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
Shakespeare: Othello - A jealous husband kills his wife, then himself, over love.
Sophocles: Antigone - A courageous sister follows her conscience to her death.
Plato: Crito - Socrates explains why dying is preferable to escaping.
Euripides: Iphigenia at Aulis - A girl offers her own life so Greece can be victorious.
Melville: Billy Budd - A good man is framed by an evil man and hanged for it.
Shakespeare: Hamlet - To be, or not to be, that is the question.
Bible: Gospel of Mark - The crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
H. James: The Beast in the Jungle - Two people pass through life not realizing what love is.
Tolstoy: The Death of Ivan Ilych - A painful end leads Ivan to forgiveness and peace at last.
Euripides: Medea - A mother kills her two boys to get back at her husband.
Gogol: The Overcoat - A shy office clerk has bad luck after his coat wears out.
Bible: Ecclesiastes - A time to be born, and a time to die…
Kafka: Metamorphosis - Turning into a bug is an odd ending for a normal guy.
Dante: The Inferno - A trip through hell shows what may await some of us.