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The Jaguar

Uploaded by ErAzAnGeL on Feb 04, 2002

“The Jaguar”, by Ted Hughes is about a trip that Hughes made to the zoo. In the poem, he attempts to convey his views human behaviour by relating it to animals in the zoo and by using his diverse lexical choice he excellently depicts the scene.

The first two verses begin with Hughes talking about the apathy, inactivity and harmlessness of the animals in the zoo he is visiting. He implies his disapproval of these things by using phrases such as;
“The apes yawn, and adore their fleas in the sun”

Hughes suggests that these apes he has encountered had become so bored that their grooming of each other was almost a religion. It was merely a way of giving the apes something to do. He continues this idea of disapproval by then going to describe the parrots as they:
“shriek as if they were on fire, or strut
Like cheap tarts to attract the stroller with the nut.”

This furthermore suggests Hughes disapproval of these animals being brought to a level where they will show off just to get food and attention.

In the second verse, Hughes goes on to comment on the many cages in the zoo, and how he walks past them all believing them to be empty, only to discover that the cages in fact harbour sleeping animals who have decided to just sleep during the day instead of impressing the zoo visitors.
“The boa-constrictor’s coil
Is a fossil. Cage after cage seems empty, or
Stinks of sleepers from the breathing straw”

Hughes’s appropriate and skilful use of metaphorical language becomes apparent as he compares the boa constrictor a fossil. In this way, he shows what he sees before him as the coiled up snake literally looks like a fossil. But, metaphorically, he is suggesting that the snake is almost dead, like a fossil. He feels cheated, and talks about how these animals could be painted on a nursery wall. In saying this, he is suggesting that these animals are so harmless that they remind him of the cartoon animals painted on a nursery wall: all softened up, and not ferocious looking.

The final three verses of the poem show’s Hughes sudden change of heart towards the animals in captivity, and he begins to contrast what he has said previously to this newfound interest: the jaguar.

To signal his change of tone, Hughes begins the third verse with a simple “But” going on to describe a passer by as...

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Uploaded by:   ErAzAnGeL

Date:   02/04/2002

Category:   Poetry

Length:   4 pages (798 words)

Views:   2322

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