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Themes

Spoken by a son to his dying father, "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" suggests the intensity and power of familial bonds. It also works through a reversal of roles – the son, not the father, is giving advice, and the father, not the son, is weak and in need of encouragement and help.

Questions About Family

  1. How would this poem be different if there was no reference to the speaker's father in the last stanza, so that it was entirely about "old age" in general? Alternatively, what if the reference were to a son instead of a father?
  2. Did you guess, before the last stanza, that the speaker was thinking about a member of his family or someone close to him? What clues can you find in the first five stanzas that might lead to this guess, even if you didn't make it?
  3. Why does the speaker of this poem advise his father to "Rage, rage against the dying of the light"? Who is helped by this advice – the father or the son? Both? Neither?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Although the speaker of this poem is addressing his father, his tone and attitude suggest that he is actually switching roles, making his father into a dependent "son" even as the speaker experiences a son's grief.

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