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The Cockroach - Kevin Halligan

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Through the allegory in "The Cockroach" Kevin Halligan reflects upon the value of life and the many challenges we face. Structure, tone and language techniques draw attention to the amount of detail and lessons that can be observed through an usually overlooked insect. The hyperbole of "a giant cockroach" conveys the closeness with which the persona is observing it, showing the reader the irony in his fascination and interest with this seemingly insignificant pest. The repetition of the insect here and in the title reinforces its importance, suggesting that this is also a device allowing one to reflect upon life. The unusual image of a lone cockroach that the persona empathises with highlights his feeling of loneliness; that they are considered an annoyance draws parallels with his despondency and identity crisis. ...read more.


The change in tone prepares us for the description of the frantic movement that the persona identifies with; this strong connection foreshadows his confession at the end. However the diction "crooked" coupled with "rusty" reveals connotations of negative past experiences involving crime he now regrets. That the table is "rusty" shows us it is a well used, universal obstacle we all pass on our journey in life; moreover it being a decaying man-made object reinforces his belief of the brevity of life. The imagery of "circling..back" parallels the persona's own return to the complete beginning, underlining his feelings of a wasteful and inadequate life. ...read more.


Furthermore, "due payment" has connotations of karma; coupled with the rhetorical question "a former life had led to?" the persona creates a tone of self-pity for what he perceives to be undue punishment. His pensive revelation "recognis(ing)" himself in the pitiful cockroach allows the reader to empathise with him, observing that his confusion is a common feeling we all perceive. He questions why we must suffer through our existence, yet acknowledges that our own actions have consequences that affect our course in life. "The Cockroach" offers a bleak outlook on life, yet the hope that we can change and affect our own destinies remains prevalent. The poet suggests that if we live consistent honourable lives, we will receive the bright and deserving futures we strive for. ...read more.

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