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“Man is truly a creature of instinct and emotion: a member of the animal kingdom”. How far do Ted Hughes’ short stories “Sunday” and “The Rain Horse” illustrate this idea?

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"Man is truly a creature of instinct and emotion: a member of the animal kingdom". How far do Ted Hughes' short stories "Sunday" and "The Rain Horse" illustrate this idea? "The Rain Horse" illustrates the idea of Man being an instinctive animal more starkly than "Sunday". But nevertheless in both of these stories, Hughes is convinced that the modern man has lost touch with the primordial side of nature. "The Rain Horse" is about Man visiting his own suppressed primitive animal nature and finding he is so far detached from it that he no longer recognise it as part of themselves but something alien and hostile. Both stories have the theme of the painful process of revisiting and attempting to come to terms with this lost bond with nature. There are outbursts of man's instinctive and emotional nature but since they both have a somewhat anti-climatic theme, Hughes is suggesting that man has alienated himself too far to re-establish the once inseparable relationship with nature. In these two stories there is a feeling of incompatibility with the vividly described raw nature due to the restraints imposed by nurture. This feeling is represented by the young man's suit and Michael's Sunday best. Both of these stories contain many descriptions of the stark and savage beauty of nature and how out of place Man looks against such a backdrop. In "The Rain Horse" there is an almost unreal primitive battle between two creatures in the wilderness with the Man tapping into his predator savage energy. The man seems not to be governed by rational thought (and indeed does not behave as a normal person would towards an animal) ...read more.


These two kinds of behaviours contrast each other and shows that animal instincts can not only be harvested in man but almost seems like an essential defence, and that man suppresses this vital survival asset at his own peril. When the animal instincts is finally switched on by the horse going after him, it makes the man forget all of his anxieties about his suit and the rain: "without a thought for his suit he sat down on the ground to rest his shaking legs, letting the rain plaster the hair down over his forehead..." The release also brings up intensely felt emotions: "The encounter had set the blood beating in his head and given him a savage energy." The act of throwing stones in defence is a very primitive and almost sub-human act. This is accompanied by a reversal of roles as the enraged man now becomes the predator. The "savage energy" is the predatorial rage that has been awakened in the man as he now seeks to take on the horse. "..roaring with all his strength" and "with another roar he jumped forward..." are also very animal-like behaviours showing that when away from civilisation and constraint man is very much like a member of the animal kingdom. In Sunday, the longing for freedom, the image of the wolf and Michael's reactions to Billy Red's act all show that animal instincts play a part in the behaviour of man. At the beginning of the story there is an anti-institution feel in the description of the "blue blazer with its meaningless badge...". ...read more.


feel in harmony with nature and assimilate into the natural environment without feeling any discomfort (e.g. the wolf galloping through the moon-lit snow filled forest). Therefore the fact that these two characters momentarily forget about the discomfort of the weather shows that during that brief period of time, the animal within was in control. Through the portrayal of the weather and the surroundings, Hughes has created a wild and desolate world where man is treated and indeed behaves no different to animals. In both of these stories nature is also extensively worked into the stories. In the Rain Horse the landscape and the weather creates a primeval atmosphere perfect for the man to exercise his animal aggression. In Sunday it strongly contrasts the church and the streets. Hence in the end man is truly a member of the animal kingdom because in these two stories the characters both have a special kind of intuitive interaction with the animals. In both of the stories the animals all have a profound effect on the people and awaken their animal instincts. But the animals do not just serve the purpose of stimulating the human's animal side, they also represents an emotion, conflict or anxiety in the character, whether it be fear and shame at revisiting one's roots or realising that the grown up circle is not such a novelty. In the end Hughes has used the animals themselves, the character's reactions and interactions between them and also the characters' own behaviour to illustrate that man has certainly an instinctive emotional link with the animals. And the behaviours of the characters could convincingly explained with argument that man is a member of the animal kingdom. ...read more.

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