- Join over 1.2 million students every month
- Accelerate your learning by 29%
- Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
Compare how Death or the threat of Death is represented in the poems you have studied
Free essay example:
Compare how Death or the threat of Death is represented in the poems you have studied.
Death is presented in many of the poems I have studied. Some of them are presented in similar ways whereas others are presented in a more diverse way. For example, ‘The Hitcher’ by Simon Armitage and ‘Education for Leisure’ by Carol Ann Duffy are similar in the fact they are both about psychotic characters who are killing for pleasure and not really for any real reason but selfish ones. On the other hand there are poems like ‘Havisham’ by Carol Ann Duffy and ‘The Laboratory’ that express strong emotions through death, for example love in the laboratory leads her to kill and in Havisham she talks about death and hate because of the love she has lost. In complete comparison to these poems we have ‘On my first Sonne’, a pre 1914 poem by Ben Jonson, which expresses death in a completely different manner. He is talking about losing love, but not in a hateful way but in a remorseful way. In this poem he is not giving out death but the one on the receiving end of death.
Both ‘Education for Leisure’ and ‘Hitcher’ are dramatic monologues by people who kill. In ‘Education for Leisure’ the speaker kills animals but then goes outside to kill a human. In ‘Hitcher’ the speaker picks up a hitcher and kills him. They are both psychotic characters, killing for no valid reason. The two speakers have personalities that differ even though they both have the same ideas and motives to kill; they both obviously have problems with people and their social skills. They have entirely opposite reasons to kill.
In ‘Education for Leisure’ I feel the speaker has a very warped view and is different in that way to the speaker in ‘Hitcher’. The Speaker, unknown whether a man or a woman, has “had enough of being ignored” Feels s/he is a genius, superior to others but people aren’t recognising this. So s/he decides “today I am going to kill something. Anything” S/he wants to be known and feels ignored. When you read the poem, it comes across that the speaker is very lonely, s/he only has pets but no friends. Perhaps this is the reason for their killing along with many other reasons.
It comes across that he wants power; he talks about when he squashes a fly against the window with his thumb, “Shakespeare. It was in another language and now the fly is in another language”.
Shakespearean Characters all had power in the Stories. The Shakespearean world was populated by very powerful and famous people. It’s another world, full of death and murder. Perhaps another world he wants to belong. This shows that the theme death is a big part of his life. Also, from that quote you can say that language, poetry and his way with words was Shakespeare’s Genius and the speaker’s genius is killing, death, which is perhaps why s/he sees himself as a genius. You also get the feeling s/he’s very bored at the beginning which is what also may have lead to murder, “a sort of grey with boredom”.
S/he doesn’t feel appreciated, this comes across especially when they talk about being a genius and going to pick up their benefits, “they don’t appreciate my autograph”
S/he seems very cold, especially when s/he has killed most of the animals around. It’s like the Speaker doesn’t have feelings, they don’t care “there is nothing left to kill”. This makes them come across as very cold. At the beginning they say “I am going to play God”, this could be taken as a biblical reference, that killing = doing good because s/he then goes on to say “I see that it is good” which is a biblical line. S/he thinks they have the right to kill like God, which makes them come across as very egotistical and arrogant.
All throughout the Poem, they make themselves appear very proud and self-obsessed. They have a very inflated view of themselves and want to be powerful. In the first Stanza alone the word ‘I’ stands out in the first few lines. Its all about them, s/he revolves around themselves and s/he’s had enough of being ignored, this gives the impression s/he only thinks about themselves and their “genius”. S/he is very self-obsessed and only goes by their own point of view. S/he says a lot of things that come across to us as very arrogant. At the end of Stanza 2, after s/he’s killed a fly, they “breathe out talent on the glass” and then begins at the start of Stanza 3 “I am a Genius”. At the end of the poem when s/he’s rang up the radio station, s/he tells the man “he’s talking to a superstar”. All these quotes show that the view they think of themselves is to be a genius, when in fact all we see is a warped person who is unemployed and has a twisted mind.
In ‘Hitcher’ the Character is completely different in personality compared to the speaker in ‘Education for Leisure’. At the beginning of Stanza 1 in ‘Hitcher’ it starts “I’d been tired, under the weather, but the Ansaphone kept screaming: One more sick note, mister; and you’re finished. Fired” This already gives evidence for some sort of stress at home and work. This also gives the impression that he has not been at work possibly which leads to us thinking where has he been?
In this Poem we know it’s a man and different to the speaker in ‘Education for Leisure’ it comes across that instead of not wanting to be ignored and not appreciated he wants to be ignored and left alone to be free which is why jealously may appear when looking at a hitcher who is independent to do what they like, unlike him he can’t have that life with a job and a home life. He wants to be free, like the hitchers, which may be his motive to kill.
Like ‘Education for Leisure’ he also seems to be quite cold. He doesn’t seem to care or be bothered by the murder. He has no emotion; he’s very matter-of fact and precise “once with the head, then six times with the krooklock in the face” this gives an insight into his personality. He seems really cold when he talks about his pride in his driving ability, he’s completely ignored the fact he’s just killed someone and looks at his driving skills. This makes him seem very cold. “(…) and didn’t even swerve. I dropped it into third” he’s bragging about his driving when the most important thing he’s just taken out of his mind. As well as having pride in his driving, he seems to have pride in his violence when he says, “Once with the head, then six times with the krooklock in the face - and didn’t even swerve”.
He seems to have contempt even after he has killed the hitcher when he says how many times he’s hit the hitcher in the face. Six times, he remembers exactly so he’s obviously proud. “He’d said he liked the breeze” “Stitch that, I remember thinking, you can walk from there” there is real contempt in these quotes, a lot of bitterness and disdain. It also seems a bit cunning of him.
You get an impression that he doesn’t get on very well with people “Ansaphone kept screaming”. Going back to the first line on the first Stanza, when the boss says “one more sick note”, this leads to the idea he may have done this before. There’s evidence in the Poem that the Speaker left home determined to commit a murder and had killed before when he says about the hired car. “It was hired”, it was as if it had all been planned or done before, everything seems too familiar.
He appears to be jealous of the hitcher which is why he may have been motivated to kill him. The hitcher is following the sun “to west from east” he appears to be following the sun to his freedom. He has no particular route; he’s just going where the wind takes him. “Good earth for a bed” the truth he said was “blowin’ in the wind”. So he had a very care-free lifestyle and had the freedom to do whatever he wanted. The speaker is jealous of this, it is what he wants. The hitcher comes across as very free, does whatever he wants. Makes no definite plans, just takes what life throws at him. This appears to be very different to the lifestyle of the speaker in comparison.
We are told by the speaker at the beginning that he is very stressed for unknown reasons. So maybe this stress has led to a random act of violence but then you can argue that it couldn’t really be random because it was more organised, he knew what he was doing and had a plan.
He is a deeply disturbed man and some parts of the violence are presented in a dark comical way. A lot of the time it is very serious but then the speaker uses a lot of contempt which can create some dark humour and you are given images of the speaker pushing the hitcher out the car which can be quite a comical image.
The Poem could be an extended Metaphor. It could be that there is no real victim, the speaker comes to realise there is no place for dreams in the real world and so he “kills” the freedom loving, imaginative side of himself that he so longs to fully be. He realises he can’t be what he wants to be so kills that side of him to get rid of the longing.
Both speakers in “Education for Leisure” and “Hitcher” are similar in some ways but also different. They are similar in the fact that they both want to kill because of problems in their lives. They seem to be very alone people and don’t seem to be very good socially with other people. They can both be egotistical, although the speaker in “Education for Leisure” more so. Both speakers are cold and cruel; they have absolutely no remorse for their actions and don’t seem bothered with murdering innocent people.
They are also different in certain ways, in “Education for Leisure” the speaker wants to kill because they are not appreciated and ignored. Whereas, in comparison, “Hitcher” he wants to kill because he’s stressed and not left alone by people. He doesn’t have freedom and he’s jealous of those who have it. Unlike the other speaker he wants to be ignored and left to be free. He has a job unlike the other speaker who is unemployed and free to do what he pleases. In ‘Education for Leisure’ the speaker at least has an imagination, as we can tell but in ‘Hitcher’ its like he’s either killed that side of him or longs for it.
The Language in “Education for Leisure” is very simple because obviously we get the impression s/he is unemployed so maybe s/he’s not that bright. Words that show the simple language are “today”, “anything” and “kill”; s/he is obviously less educated and has a lack of language skills. This is why when they talk about Shakespeare perhaps s/he is referring to his/her skill of killing in comparison to Shakespeare’s use of language. It is very colloquial language; it is presented like s/he’s chatting to us as if we were a stranger wanting to know about him/her. The last line addresses the reader so we get an impression that somebody is talking to us. The word “bog” is used, this is slang and very childish. Words like these create slight humour in the poem as you get the image the speaker creates. It is not very formal or Standard English which again gives the impression that s/he has a lack of education, shown by the simple and colloquial language.
It’s made to sound like he’s addressing the reader, talking to us, “I touch your arm”. He tells us what he’s doing as he’s doing it and addresses us directly. “Your” this is a personal pronoun; this effect involves us in the poem, makes us feel threatened.
The Language in “Hitcher” is very much the same and similar to that. Simple Language is used, as well as colloquial language. We’re lulled into thinking nothing bad is happening but once you realise he is killing, he appears unpleasantly cold as a person. It seems more like a conversation and he used slang, this gives the impression that he’s also not that educated. “I let him have it” this is not Standard English and isn’t very formal. Simple short sentences are used in both poems which gives the poem simplicity to it. The Language in “Hitcher” is very similar to that of “Education for Leisure” so the same effect is produced to give an uneducated character out to kill for very opposite motives.
The Structure in “Education for Leisure” helps show that s/he’s thinking on the spur of the moment, they’re more spontaneous. This reflects the abnormality of the character. On the surface, the speakers very controlled (the stanzas have regular number of lines) but underneath the surface, there are very disconnected thoughts (the different ideas in single stanzas). There are temporal Leaps and random leaps to things like “the cat avoids me”. This creates an image of a very disconnected person inside but who appears very controlled.
Each Stanza is disconnected separately, for example in Stanza 2 it goes from him killing a fly to triggering back a thought to his school days and Shakespeare to his talent. They seem to be very disconnected ideas. Each Stanza is connected though, for example the first stanza is about him being bored and ignored and so wanting to kill something and then in the second stanza its about his ‘first killing’ the fly. The second stanza ends in “I breathe out talent” and the third stanza begins with how he’s a genius. They’re all connected ideas in the separate stanzas which shows on the outside it appears controlled but inside its far from that, this applies to the speaker as well.
In comparison, the structure in “Hitcher” is unusual. Each Stanza has two short lines, two medium lines and one longer line. I think this gives a good affect because it shows the precise way in which the speaker uses language in the poem, very controlled and precise. Also, the speaker is very stressed and over tired so its like he’s trying to appear calm and trying to control his own madness.
Enjambment is used in “Hitcher” this makes it feel more like a conversation as the lines flow into one another. It makes the poem look more organised but ideas are pouring out in a less organised fashion. The enjambment is used more at the moment of murder, this creates speed and gives the impression that everything is done very quickly.
The last 3 lines are end-stopped this makes it slow down after the moments of high speed.
Both Poems use different structure to create the different personalities of the two speakers who are similar yet also very different. They both seemed controlled on the outside but its far from that when you look closer and underneath it all they are very disconnected and detached.
A deviant and disturbed character is presented in both poems, both poets use very similar language and slightly different structures to give the effect of the two different personalities but the same sort of psychotic character. Each is effective in showing the character of each speaker through the language, structure and personality shown and their motives for killing. Death is presented well in each poem; they both are presenting it in a very similar way as we encounter a psychotic character killing to make themselves fulfil what they think they need to do for themselves to feel better. Death is shown in a very negative and twisted way.
We then look at ‘The Laboratory’; this is also a dramatic monologue but has some differences and similarities when compared to the other two poems. It is about a woman wanting to poison her lover’s new woman. The tone of the poem shows that she’s very revengeful and is a very cold person, much like the other characters. She shows pleasure in the idea of killing another woman. There is a difference though, in the other poems death is led by reasons of jealousy and resentment, it is the same for this poem but more emotion is involved as we see her love of the man who’s affair has broken her heart. “They believe my tears flow”, she is upset and obviously still loves/loved the man. There is obvious bitterness towards the woman; jealousy is shown to her features and beauty and her being with the man, “with her head and her breast and her arms and her hands, should drop dead!”. There are a lot of negative emotions, Anger, resentment, jealousy, pleasure in the murder this is shown by a lot of the things she says, “While they laugh, laugh at me”.
She finds the poison precious, beautiful, “brave tree”, “Gold oozings”, “Soft phial”, “exquisite blue”, “sure to taste sweetly”. All these show how much this poison is to her, how important and precious it is to her, “thy treasures”, “invisible pleasures” just the poison in this poem represents the death, in which it will lead to her happiness.
She has more worry about the death than the other characters we have witnessed; they are cold murderers who don’t even think about the murder after. She shows some worry, “But brush this dust off me”, “lest horror it brings”.
Lots of techniques are used with the language which represent the death in the poem. Monosyllabic words are used to show cold deliberateness in the speaker, for example in Stanza 3 “grind”, “mash”, “pound” and in stanza 10 “brand”, “burn”, “bite”. They are all strong verbs, very aggressive and physical words. They are onomatopoeic words and enliven the poem further. All these verbs are very aggressive and this suggests that she is too and it reflects her character. Alliteration is used in stanza 3, “moisten and mash”, “paste, pound at thy powder” this quickens the pace of the poem, like its all being done very quickly. Descriptive adjectives are also used, “gold oozings”, “soft phial”, “brave tree”, “exquisite blue”, “sure to taste sweetly”, they are all positive adjectives, showing that the poison is really a precious thing. The language is very archaic and old in comparison to the other poems, this gives a sense of more education and more formality.
Enjambment is used and this really quickens the pace of the poem along with all the techniques of the language. It rhymes every two lines, giving a rhythm and pace to the poem. Its like she is telling this to us all very quickly and as the poison is being made and everything is happening, it is all happening very fast.
In complete contrast to these three poems I compared ‘On my first Sonne’. It is different in many ways to the other poems, it is about a personal experience; losing his 7 year old son. There is more emotion in this poem, the love is shown through the death. It’s the father working through the loss of a son. The tone is more reflective in comparison to the other poems and he is upset about the death which is different from all the others who show pleasure in the death and are really cold characters. Very strong emotions are used, its more similar to ‘The Laboratory’ which also explores strong emotions of love and jealousy. In contrast to ‘Education for Leisure’ and ‘The hitcher’ show dark humour, in ‘On my first Sonne’ no humour is presented with the death. Death in this poem is presented completely differently to that of the other three, he is on the receiving end of death whereas the other three show death being given out by the main characters. Like the other three poems although slightly more positive, it becomes more negative and pessimistic and no double meanings are used. As it reaches the end, he says not to love anything too much or it will be painful when its gone and the pessimism is shown.
There isn’t much imagery in the poem in comparison to the others used to show ideas, it is more reflective and he reflects on what’s happened. It is like ‘The Laboratory’ very formal and archaic. It is very emotional and more complex language is used, “will man lament the state he should envie” he uses questions a lot, thinking through how to deal with the death. In the other poems, they did not even have to deal with the deaths, through the coldness of their characters. “Ben Jonson his best piece of Poetrie” This is a Metaphor, showing his best piece of work was his son, his best creation. A bit of imagery is shown in this but not over the top.
The structure is simple in ‘On my first Sonne’ and is 12 lines long, there is a rhyme scheme and the ideas are ordered as there is progress to a conclusion. This is different in comparison with the first two poems which may have a display of ordered lines and structure but really on the inside they are all over the place.
Death is shown in all these poems, some in a similar way and others in a completely different way. Some express strong emotions through the death and others are just about cold, warped death and some are about people on the receiving end of death. Each of their themes, language and structure help to show this.
This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Comparisons section.
- Join over 1.2 million students every month
- Accelerate your learning by 29%
- Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month