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Compare and contrast the way John Clare and Coventry Patmoore portray their protests in their poems 'A London Fete' and 'The Badger'

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Introduction

Compare and contrast how John Clare and Coventry Patmoore portray their protests in their poems, 'A London Fete' and 'The Badger' 'A London Fete' by Coventry Patmoore paints a vivid picture of a public hanging in the middle of London. 'The Badger' by John Clare describes a badger being captured, baited and eventually killed. Both of the poets portray these events in a highly negative way showing that they are against these events continuing. However, 'A London Fete' was written years after public hangings had been banned while 'The Badger' was written at a time when Badger baiting was still common public entertainment. Both poets use critical descriptions of the people involved in the events in order to convey their protest as well as creating sympathy for the victims of the poems and creating unpleasant atmosphere/s within the poems. In both poems, negative descriptions of the people involved are used to convey a negative attitude to the events themselves. For example in 'The Badger' we read how the men who take part in the baiting of the badger "laugh and shout and fright the scampering hogs". This makes them seem, in contrast to the "scampering" frightened hogs, like callous, mean creatures. In 'The London Fete', when describing the crowd looking at the man being hanged Clare writes, "Thousands of eyeballs, lit with hell". This makes the crowd seem inhumane and evil in the same way that 'The Badger' makes people seem callous and mean. ...read more.

Middle

The effect of this the contrast it has with later events in the poem when the badger is taken to town. At this point the atmosphere becomes hectic and unpleasant just like in 'A London Fete'. However, in 'A London Fete', as already mentioned, the atmosphere conveyed by Patmoore, is frantic and chaotic. In 'The Badger', when the atmosphere builds, there is more of a sense of conflict than anything else. This sense of conflict is created with single words such as "bites", "hurled", "fight" and "fray". These words, showing that the badger is fighting back, evoke a sense of respect which highlights and supports the sense of sympathy which Clare has already created. By giving the badger a variety of attributes Clare appeals to all audiences ensuring they are 'on his side'. However, this contrast in attributes may also have been used by Clare to build up the character of the badger from sympathetic, in the first paragraph, to respected, in the third paragraph, and finally implying he is enduring in the last paragraph where it says that even after falling "as dead", he "grins and drives the crowd agen". This development of his character affords him a 'noble death' giving further weight to the poets protest. Both poets use women to enhance the atmospheres which they have already created. In 'The Badger', Clare sees women as gentle creatures: "The frightened woman takes the boys away". ...read more.

Conclusion

This leads to the conclusion that 'A London Fete' is themed around human evil. This message is conveyed through phrases like "the realm of damned rejoices", describing the sound of hell, being used in the same context as phrases describing the sound of the crowd like, "the clatter and clangour of hateful voices". This mixing of contexts implies that the sound of the crowd is similar to the sounds of hell and hence suggests the people in the crowd are demonic. The more ambiguous last paragraph of 'The Badger', talks about the practice of taming badgers and keeping them as pets. This provides an alternative to badger baiting, which is more vital in 'The Badger' as Clare knows it would be unwise to condemn a practice without offering an alternative for it. In this sense, 'The Badger' by John Clare is a protest poem with hope, a piece dedicated to make people at the time question the practice of badger baiting. 'A London Fete' by John Clare is a severely condemning poem describing capital punishment. Perhaps the vicious circle of human evil he describes, although lacking the presence of public hangings was still going on when he wrote 'A London Fete'. Therefore by condemning public hangings so severely and then linking the after-effects of this to general human evil, it could be said that Patmoores protest was a lot wider than public hangings and in fact he was protesting against general social injustice. ...read more.

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