What Can We Learn From "Viva La Vida"?

by Haibo Sun

    Hello, everybody! Today I would like to present the song,"Viva La Vida" by Coldplay. "Viva La Vida" has a lot of deep meanings, feelings, and emotions; there are a lot of things we can learn from the song. I am going to analyze the structure, poetic devices, emotions and mood, meaning, and life lesson in the song. I will then discuss the person in the song, the life questions that are left unanswered, and the reasons that I chose this song.

    The structure of the song has 5 stanzas and 3 choruses. The first chorus is the transition of the main character, and it contrasts the differences between the first 3 stanzas and last two stanzas. The second and third choruses are also a repetition of the first chorus.

    There is a barrage of poetic devices spread throughout the song. The rhymes are the most obvious out. The rhyme scheme is AABB. For example, "I used to roll the dice, feel the fear in my enemy's eyes." Repetitions occupy most of the chorus in the song. The hyperbole and metaphors are the main devices from stanza 1 to 5. Overall, "Viva La Vida" is a song full of poetic devices.

    In the first three stanzas of the song, the man in the song seems to be a powerful ruler of a magnificent country. Especially the first stanza, when he strongly announces that "Sea would rise when I give the word". We can see that he is the greatest person in this country, and everything would listen to him, this sentence is also hyperbole. In lines 5 and 6, he says proudly that he "Used to roll the dice". This probably means that he used to make things happen. It seems to be a metaphor for making war or making a decision without any careful consideration. Or, maybe he is just a gambling emperor. In addition, from lines 7 and 8, we can clearly see that he is a dictator because even the crowd fears him, eh?

    The chorus is ambiguous. The writer talks about Jerusalem, Roman Cavalry, missionaries, bells, and choirs. These seem to be related to the story of Jesus. Line 15 and 16 seem to be asking someone to be a mirror, a shield, and even missionaries. Who is he talking to the crowd, Jerusalem, Roman Cavalry, Jesus, or God? Also, in the chorus, the writer uses alliteration. For example: 'singing', 'sword', and 'shield'; 'foreign' and 'field'; and 'my', 'missionaries' and 'mirror'.

    After the chorus, everything changes immediately. In stanza 4 and 5, he changes from a sacred ruler to a pathetic person who needs help. He says that it was the "Wicked and wild wind, blew down down the doors to let me in". In my own opinion, "wicked and wild wind" is like a revolutionary uprising; and "open the door to let me in" probably means rebels pushed him into the jail. "Shattered window and sound of drums" maybe can represent the agonizing feeling for him in the jail. From this chorus, we can deeply feel the protagonist has a depressed, painful, and a little indignant feeling about his life right now.

    In stanza 5, the revolution begins, and the purpose may be to overthrow him. It is the most tempestuous for him right now because rebels are trying to kill him. From the sentence "Just a puppet on a lonely string", we can clearly see that he is possibly innocent of everything because there might be someone controlling him to force him to do everything. After that, he complains that "Oh! Who would ever want to be king?". This sentence can show he feels helpless about being the king. From this stanza, I think that we can comprehend his innocent, forlorn, pathetic misfortune, and his helplessness about his life.

    This song is not just talking about one person, it is talking to a group who has fallen from grace. A person who rises rapidly, and becomes powerful for a period; then is overthrown by rebels. I think this group of people might include the last emperor of a dynasty. For examples, the last king of the House of Bourbon of France: Louis 16; the last emperor of Qing dynasty of China: Puyi; the last Tsar of Russia: Nicholas II. These people had the largest power in their country, then they were overthrown by revolutions, and had a pathetic life when they got old. I think these people are the real protagonists of the song.

    The song is like a Pandora's box, it opens up a lot of questions. Am I a good person? Is it better to be a king or a street sweeper? To be rich or poor? To be powerful or weak? What can I do better if I have a chance? Is there anything that I did that is wrong? They are all profound the life questions that we should think about.

    The song teaches us an important life lesson. Why does the tragedy happen to the protagonist of the song? Perhaps that is because the protagonist is a dictator, and too smug, does not respect people who are lower than him. It is the same lesson in our life, too. One day, if we succeed, and we are powerful, we should not be smug, bully others with our power and force because nobody wants the tragedy that happens to the protagonist to happen to us. We should be modest, and respect people who are lower than us, then our success would be everlasting.

    I choose this song because Viva la Vida has a deep meaning that is hard to reach, but it is also important for us to learn. "Viva La Vida" has many poetic devices to make it inspiring and cohesive, and it also has its unique rhymes to let the listeners obtain an understanding of the main character's difficulties from the author. In my opinion, the meaning, information, and the lessons we receive from the song are more valuable than the poetic devices.

We ought to analyze more songs in the future. Every time I analyze a song it's like a new lesson, a new meaning and a new story for me, just like searching for treasures. I have never thought song lyrics could be so valuable before, and the assignment has changed my mind about song lyrics. Now I feel song lyrics are excessively valuable like treasures, and I will pay more attention to and give more time to the purpose and meaning of song lyrics in the future.

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