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Write a comparison of ‘The Grauballe Man’, ‘Punishment’ and ‘Field of Vision’ by Seamus Heaney.

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Introduction

Write a comparison of 'The Grauballe Man', 'Punishment' and 'Field of Vision' by Seamus Heaney. The title 'Field of vision' has a triple meaning; the field which is in view, her field of vision, and the narrators field of vision. The title is an apt indication of the poem itself. Heaney presents the reader with images which at face value mean one thing, but when you look closer the meaning changes. For instance the 'sycamore trees un-leafing and leafing at the far end of the lane' not only describes the scene but also gives us an insight into the woman's nature. Not only that but it is creating a very cyclical feel. Much of the poem not only describes the woman's view through her window, but the woman herself. 'Straight out past the TV in the corner' implies the woman is not interested in the mundane, or is perhaps intellectually above television.

Middle

The image of the 'well-braced gate', a 'lean, clean iron, roadside one', implies strength and sturdiness, but with holes through which other things are visible. It is unclear as to whether the reader is looking in or out, however what is clear is the slight feeling of imprisonment, a physical barrier, similar to that of the woman's wheel chair. The first three verses all end with a full stop, however Heaney uses enjambment to continue the fourth verse into the fifth. Within the fifth verse Heaney makes the message of the piece clear. With the 'field behind the hedge (which) grew more distinctly strange' as you were 'focused and drawn in by what barred the way'. Heaney seems to say that the barriers in life, the wheel-chair and gate for the woman, can either hold you back, or allow you to see 'deeper into' life 'than you expected'.

Conclusion

Indeed punishment and Grauballe man share many images, both bodies which Heaney describes were preserved in peat bog, which would of caused the 'tanned and toughened' throat of the Grauballe man and the 'oak bone' colouring of the 'barked sapling' like girl in Punishment. It is not however only the discovery and state of the bodies which link the two poems, but the descriptions of their apparently judicial killings. The Grauballe man for an unknown crime, for which it appears he is repentant, and the unnamed girl in Punishment for, we are lead to believe, an act of adultery. This act ties in with the image of her noose as 'a ring', symbolising eternity and marriage, and the 'memories of love', as well as her as a 'poor scapegoat'. It is in this recognition Heaney admits he too, despite his sympathy would of 'cast...the stones of silence'. Both poems are believed to be references by Heaney to two of the more atrocious IRA attacks. The Grauballe man is that of several hooded victims, judicially killed and dumped.

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