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Ted Hughes' 'the Jaguar'

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 09:21 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 59.8 
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  • Essay Grade: 3,00 /5 (1 Graders)
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How effectively does Hughes convey the power of the jaguar?





Ted Hughes’ poem ‘The Jaguar’ describes the animals in a zoo and their lifestyles.   It also compares them to the jaguar, which is an animal that lives differently to the others in the way that it views its life.   The poem depicts the jaguar as powerful, but in what way?  


  The first line of Ted Hughes’ poem the jaguar is:


“The apes yawn and adore their fleas in the sun.”


From the very first three words it is clear that the apes are tired, and the fact that they are in the sun adds to the sleepy air.   I think this line was deliberately chosen to begin to convey the monotonous lull of everyday life in the zoo and set a drowsy mood.   They are “adoring” their fleas, which is not a word commonly used in these circumstances.   Playing with fleas is normal behaviour for apes, but the use of the word adoring suggests that they are glad of the distraction in their lethargic state.   From this line, the apes do not sound threatening, more bored.


  The second line has a rather different tone; it tells of the parrots that screech as if on fire.   Parrots do indeed screech, so this is literal, but it has connotations of pain or perhaps boredom.   Obviously they are not literally on fire, so these words could have been chosen to help exhibit their brightly coloured plumage or to remain with the painful image and to display their banshee-like screaming.   The end of the line includes enjambment and expresses how the parrots strut like “cheap tarts to attract the stroller with the nut.”   “Cheap tarts” may also have connotations of the bright, tacky colours of parrots’ feathers, but the parrots also mean to attract attention with their screeches and strutting.  


  Line three goes on to speak of the tiger and lion, who are apparently “fatigued with indolence”.   Again the tone is of sleepiness and possibly boredom, and the idleness of the animals in question.   The...

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