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The Jaguar Poetry Analysis

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Category: English

Autor: anton 12 January 2011

Words: 1057 | Pages: 5

The poem �The Jaguar’ written by Ted Hughes describes the lifestyles of animals at a zoo and their different attitudes to entrapment in their cage. It compares the bored, lazy moods of the animals to the lively, adventurous mood of the jaguar, which does not see this confinement as a way of stopping him behaving as if it were in its natural environment. The poet’s clever use of techniques such as similes and metaphors clearly puts an image in our minds of the animal’s ways of life and gives an accurate interpretation of what we would normally see at a day at the zoo.

The poem describes the actions of the lazy, bored animals to the energetic mood of the jaguar. The animals are in fact so lazy and bored that they are �fatigued with indolence,’ in other words, their boredom exhausts them. They spend most of their time sleeping, making it very uninteresting for the visitors to watch. It then talks about the parrot, which �strut like cheap tarts’ to try and get some food from passers by. The guests are unimpressed with the animals, until they reach the jaguar’s cage, where they watch in amazement as the jaguar behaves as it would in the wild.

The supposed message is told through the jaguar escaping with its mind even though it is trapped in the cage. It tells us that even though we may be in some sort of physical confinement, we not have to stop us escaping with our minds, therefore behaving as we would on the outside.

The mood starts off as being drowsy and depressing, when we hear about the tiredness and boredom of the animals. There is a tone of sympathy felt for the suffering of the animals. Later in the poem, the tone with the jaguar’s energy is quite uplifting, with a lively and energetic mood to contrast the depressing mood from before.

The poem is structured into five stanzas, each with four lines. These lines are about equal in length. Sometimes a sentence is incomplete within a stanza, and then the sentence is finished at the start of the next stanza. For example, the line �Fatigued with indolence, tiger and lion lie still as the sun’ is broken up. The last two words of the first stanza are �tiger and lion’ and the first words of the second are �lie still as the sun.’ The end of the first stanza is therefore going on to a different subject, which intrigues the reader into moving to the second stanza.

The poet uses clever diction to express his ideas. His use of words clearly set the mood in the poem (drowsiness at the start, energy at the end) and makes it more interesting. �The apes yawn and adore their fleas in the sun’ immediately sets a drowsy mood. Apes usually play with their fleas, but the use of the word adore suggests that they are even too lazy for that. The sun also adds to the sleepy air. �Cage after cage seems empty’ means that there is so little activity in the cage, it’s as if the animals are not there. �It may be painted on a nursery wall’ says that the animals are unnatural in that they could be threatening like they in the wild but are choosing to lie about, making them harmless and approachable, so much so that they could be painted on a wall painting suitable for children.

When the poet talks about the energy of the jaguar, he creates energy in his use of words. By the bang of blood in the brain deaf the ear’ is a sentence that convicts a great deal of energy, and the use of alliteration helps to give it power. It refers to the jaguars ignorance of suffering, the jaguar chooses to ignore the throbbing blood that he can sense. His eyes are blind in fire and his ears deaf to his pounding blood. �The bang of blood’ indicates a growing intensity growing inside of the jaguar. The onomatopoeia of the word �bang’ also helps give energy to the sentence.

The poem uses many similes and metaphors to describe the animals. The first simile is with the parrots that �strut like cheap tarts to attract the stroller with the nut.’ This puts an image in our heads of a model or prostitute strutting, and compares the strutting model to that of the parrots. �Tiger and lion lie still as the sun’ compares the animal’s stillness to the sun, which is generally stationary. Some alliteration is used: �The boa-constrictor’s coil is a fossil’ depicting the stillness of the snake and suggesting that it has been there for a long time. �Through prison darkness after the drills of his eyes’ means he is running after his eyes or his instincts, which are metaphorically described as drills because they are so piercing and striking. �On a short fierce fuse’ refers to the short temper of the jaguar.

Personification is used in the line �Stinks of sleepers from the breathing straw.’ Straw is given human qualities in being able to breathe. The line actually refers to the animals under the straw breathing. This sentence is another example of alliteration, the repetition of the �S’ sound suggesting the hiss of a snake, giving a snake-theme in the stanza (along with the boa constrictor) The sleepers don’t literally stink, just that there is a strong �flavour’ of doziness in the air.

There is no rhyme besides the words �strut’ and �nut’ at the end of the second and third lines in the first stanza. The rhythm is fairly slow throughout the poem, even when it describes the energy of the jaguar. The choice of slow words adds to the slowness of the poem.

So in conclusion, Ted Hughes’ clever use of poetic techniques diction, imagery, and sound devices helps recreate the scene which we would expect to see at a zoo. The poet cleverly describes how just like in a zoo, animals have different ways of approaching life in a cage. Some animals feel suppressed by the cage and it makes them bored, tired and lazy, others strut to try and get food from passers by, and others, like the jaguar, are lively and energetic, and an entertainment for the visitors. Overall, this poem is successful in grabbing people’s attention.

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