Fear of the Dark Essay Example
Fear is a basic human emotion and essential for surviving. Fear allows humans to determine the difference between a safe situation and an unsafe one. Although, some fears are not necessary for survival. Many people believe they have a fear of the dark. However, a belief is all that it is. Most people do not suffer from nyctophobia, and instead, their “fear of the dark” is a symbol for a different worry. The three texts, “Fear,” “You Are Afraid of the Dark,” and “Why Some People Never Grow Out of a Fear of the Dark,” explore these other apprehensions. Furthermore, the three texts connect by a common theme as each literary work uses multiple techniques such as mood, figurative language, and the motif of darkness to convey the fear of the unknown.
Carri Romm in her article, “Why Some People Never Grow Out of a Fear of the Dark,” delves into what the fear of darkness actually is. According to her article, the absence of light is not what people fear, instead, “...what the darkness masks” frightens people (Romm). Darkness represents people's true distress which is the “fear of the ‘unexpected’ (Romm). When the lights go out, humans lose the ability to see. Unaware of what is going on, people’s minds wander and try to fill the lack of sight with its own possibilities for what might be happening. However, people are still afraid because unconsciously their mind knows that their imagination is not the truth. People understand that nothing bad is probably happening, but humans are scared because they cannot see. Therefore, they do not know what is actually happening. The fear of darkness symbolizing the fear of the unknown is a common motif in the other two texts.
Sarah Tinsdale's poem “Fear” explains how fearing the unknown feels. The sense of terror can be felt as the speakers describe how “The cold black fear is clutching me to-night” (Teasdale). The fear can be felt all around as the mood becomes dark. The next few lines, “As long ago when they would take the light / And leave the little child who would have prayed, / Frozen and sleepless at the thought of death,” aids in understanding the type of worry because a comparison between this terror and a more familiar fear is made (Teasdale). By creating a simile in the first four lines, the abstract idea of fearing the unknown is made relatable. The author states that the anxiety felt is similar to the fear a child has of darkness. These lines compare the speaker's fear of the unknown to the fear children have at night; however, these lines do not describe the speaker’s fear as fear of the dark. The motif of darkness and the use of figurative language creates a mood where one understands the apprehensions and fear of the unknown causes. A fear of the unknown is a fear that most people have, and it is made more clear by a simple, yet profound comparison to a common fear children have.
The poem “You Are Afraid of The Dark'' uses understated symbolism to create a somber mood, and further explain what fear of the dark truly is. Doom is felt when the speaker describes how “His gun was firing / into the persimmon trees / and the rain of leaves and ripe fruit / fell farther and farther,” (Neurnberger). In these lines, there are two symbols: the gun and the persimmon tree. A gun is a common symbol for violence or death, and trees symbolize multiple ideas including peace, strength, and education; however, the poem describes a persimmon tree. A persimmon tree specifically symbolizes knowledge and enlightenment. The shooting of the tree represents the loss of knowledge or the lack of information. Later in the poem when“The raccoons came then / to hiss all around:” a feeling of darkness is created as racoons are a symbol for uncertainty (Neurnberger). Without understanding there is only unknown, and that is made clear by the raccoons surrounding the speaker. The feeling of the unknown is made stronger by the setting being a forest late at night. The lack of light or darkness is another symbol for the lack of knowledge. Surrounded by uncertainty and without knowledge, the speaker is alone making it understood that darkness is not the true fear, but not knowing what to do is.
Being in a comfy bed, safe and peacefully at night is not many people’s worst nightmare; instead, not knowing is. People fear not knowing what is going to happen because they feel unprepared, and the uncertainty is scary. The three texts explain this fear to the masses by using a variety of literary techniques. In each text, there is a thematic connection of fear of dark and fear of the unknown. The symbol for fear of the unknown is darkness because when the lights go out, people are all made more aware that they cannot see, and they are reminded that they are treading through life blindly.