What is the message in “Night Sweat” and how does Robert Lowell present it.
“Night Sweat” concerns about the mid life encounter and relation with life and death. Robert Lowell explores this matter with the aid of figurative language, pessimistic tone, alliteration, ellipses and caesuras. Lowell utilizes these techniques to portray the minds unstable condition during this experience and to present the importance of others support in order to endure and overcome the hardships we experience in life.
Lowell presents to us the impact on our minds once we experience life’s crisis. The insecurity is shown in the line, “my life’s fever is soaking in night sweat – one life, one writing! But the downward glide and bias of existing wrings us dry”. The phrase “my life’s fever” is a metaphor for the experience and major impact of a mid life crisis, and the uncomfortable feeling of “night sweat” reflects on the feeling of anxiety and discomfort during this experience. The caesuras and ellipses in the poem create a break and a change of pace in the poem, this mirrors the disjointed thought process usually associated with someone who is experiencing discomfort. The negative diction used throughout stanza one sets a pessimistic tone in the voice of the persona, for example: “downward glide”, “bias of existing”, and “the child who died”. The pessimistic tone and the persona’s incoherent mind show that his attitude towards life is on a negative stance. This is reinforced by the phrase, “the downward glide and bias of existing wrings us dry”. This states that the hardships we face in life (the “downward glide” and the “bias of existing) are the elements that deteriorate our vitality and leaves us exhausted.
Lowell presents a pessimistic persona experiencing one of life’s great hardships during stanza one, while in stanza two he presents a slightly more optimistic and hopeful persona during his hardship. The tone of the poem changes due to the alliteration and the cheerful...