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A Prayer for the Dying

  • Date Submitted: 04/26/2012 04:35 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 54.5 
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George Garcia
A Prayer for the Dying Essay
ENG – 12 Period 1

Stewart Onan, the author of A Prayer for the Dying, skillfully composes a gothic novel which leads the reader through a series of unfortunate and tragic events. In an attempt to prevent the tragedies, the novel’s protagonist, Jacob Hansen, illustrates himself to the reader as a gothic hero. His persistent and elaborate efforts to solve the novels issues make the ending more tragic. Without a doubt, Jacob Hansen’s traits and actions throughout the novel classify him as a gothic hero whose actions should be sympathized.
Death is a component in literature that many gothic novels share. Its presence is dramatic and often leads to tragedies in the novel. Jacob Hansen’s obsession with death is a characteristic that classifies him as a gothic hero.   His fascination with death originates from his experiences in the Civil War. At one point in the novel, Jacob had a flashback on a day where he had to “pack” the dead bodies onto a wagon. After this experience, Jacob feels that it is his responsibility to take care of the dead and properly prepare them for their burial. Jacobs’s prior war experiences have led him to be diagnosed with PTSD. His obsession with death can easily be linked to the war, and his constant involvement with death has led him to insanity. This insanity should be sympathized for the sole fact that it stems from a tragic event in his life which he feels responsible for.
In addition, Jacob is a gothic hero because his actions led to the deaths of many. When diphtheria spread across the whole town, Jacob decided to implement a quarantine in which no one could enter or leave the town of Friendship. He boldly made the decision due to fear that diphtheria would spread to neighboring towns and create an epidemic However, the quarantine had flaws. Jacob did not take into consideration that many people in the town were healthy and disease free. For these people, death was inevitable as they were...


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