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Death Knock by Woody Allen

Death is also unassuming and humorous himself in ways that make him a very unthreatening portrayal of death.

Death is as humorous as Nat. When Nat tells him it cannot be his time because he just merged with a new company and that Death is not what he expected, Death replies, "What'd you expect-Rock Hudson" (Allen 3)? Death also seems to have limited power to carry out his assignment, since he willingly enters into Nat's wager to play a game of gin rummy. If Nat wins, he wins another 24 hours of life. If he loses, he will go with Death immediately. Allen also uses cultural icons to help personify death and make him less threatening and familiar. This version of Death enjoys his "Fresca" and is offered some "M&M's," quite bother Nat has not thought ahead to offer something a bit nicer for unexpected drop-ins (Allen 3). By making death so familiar and humorous, Allen makes him seem less fearsome and something we can approach in a much lighter mood than we normally do Death.

Allen's use of a one-day wager if Nat wins is significant. His use of the allegory of the card game reinforces his main theme in the use of this specific time wager. The theme seems to be that since we all must die, even one more day of life is worthwhile if we can get it. As literary critic Paul Jorion (2007) says, "Life amounts in every instance to a similar losing battle where what the highest skill obtains is nothing more than time...suggesting that time isn't so bad a commodity after all" (p. 1). This is why Allen characterizes Death as he does, so we understand we should get more out of the time we do have to live by enjoying life more fully by taking death less seriously. Commins (1987) argues that Allen's works are typically centered on questions about "death" (p. 2). In his portrayal of Death in this play, Allen seems to suggest that some form of escape from the inevitable


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Death Knock by Woody Allen. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:32, August 18, 2017, from
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