The moral of Jessica Mitford’s article, “Behind the Formaldehyde Curtain”, is to expose the process of what occurs have someone dies. She also exposes all of the procedures that undergo the deceased body in order to be displayed at the funeral. In comparison to Ross’s article “On the Fear of Death”, both articles incur the fact that humans are unable to cope with death or dying. After the process of embalming occurs, Mitford states that the body has, “been revamped to look like a living doll, he has arranged for it to nap for a few days in a slumber room, and he has put on a well-oiled performance in which the concept of death has played no part whatsoever” (Behind the Formaldehyde Curtain, p. 263). This quote is powerful in expressing the fact that humans are unable to cope with death. We must have our loved one looking like a human doll in order to receive closure. Similarly in Ross’ article, she also emphasizes the fact that mankind is beginning to drift and hide from death and dying of a loved one. This occurs simply because humans struggle to cope with death or dying of someone
Although both articles contain important information to support one another, there are also some differences between what the two authors believe. It is said that Kubler-Ross believes that people nowadays are hiding children from death. While Mitford believes that people are allowing their children to experience the process of the death of someone. In Kubler-Ross’ article, she states that people are now trying to hide their children from death, simply because they don’t want their children to experience such pain at a young age. According to Ross, this, in fact, is not good because it does not mentally prepare their children for death in the future. The author, Kubler-Ross, proclaims that “allowing the children to be around death and mourn alongside their parents, prepares them to view death as a part of life, this experience allows them to be prepared for the future and allows them to further grow and mature.” (On The Fear of Death, p. 93). The consequence of hiding your children from this part of life can lead to many problems later in the child’s life. Mitford explains this differently. Mitford believes that parents are allowing their kids to experience death and mourn alongside them because the process that goes along behind the formaldehyde curtain makes the situation less sad for the children. The children who attend the funeral get to see their deceased loved one in “healthy” shape, although it is all makeup and surgery. In Mitford’s formaldehyde article, she portrays the fact that humans want to see their deceased loved one with makeup and looking all healthy. This encourages their children to witness their deceased loved one simply to make them believe and retain some type of closure on the fact that they lived a healthy and perfect life while realistically that is not possible.
Both authors give me two different perspectives on how to view death and I think Mitford would not agree with some of the ways Kubler-Ross views death and vice versa. There are 5 stages that Elisabeth Kubler-Ross makes aware of throughout the text. Out of the 5 stages that Kubler-Ross theorizes I believe that Jessica Mitford would not agree with Ross’ comments on denial of death and acceptance. Mitford is one of the only authors who made the reader stare “death” right in the face. She believes that we must see death as part of life and we must handle it not run away from it. In other words, denial can be one of the many ways of avoiding a situation because you can’t come to an agreement on what has just occurred. Since the topic is about death, you may be in denial of a death that may have occurred. This leads me to the last stage. It is the stage of acceptance. This is the opposite of denial and I believe that Mitford would respond to Ross’ comments explaining that this is how people should be. This final stage is where all your emotions come to terms with the situation. Both authors, Jessica Mitford and Elisabeth Kubler-Ross created two powerful and deep novels on the views of death. They were both compared through the fact that we can’t cope when our loved ones pass, and they were also both different through the views we should have on death.
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