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Theme Of Parental Anxiety

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Introduction

Poetry Question Compare how Thomas Hood and Ann Bradstreet have created the universal theme of parental anxiety in their poems 'A Parental Ode' and 'Upon My Son...' In the poems 'A Parental Ode' and 'Upon My Son...' the poets are reflecting on their sons. The two poems are very emotive as Hood and Bradstreet reveal their deep feelings for their beloved boys. Hood adopts a comical tone as he expresses how wonderful his son is only to contrast such expressions with ironical descriptions of his son's mischievous behaviour. But we can see in his writing that his son's mischievous behaviour causes him anxiety as frequently his thoughts are revealed through words placed in brackets. His natural parental anxiety can be seen in the sentence '(Good heavens! The child is swallowing a pin!)' While he is trying to write a poem through his rose-tinted view of his son, the reality of the scraps and potential disasters experienced by a normal toddler distracts him and he writes his thoughts down. Bradstreet on the other hand is filled with fear - caused by anxiety - and faith as she prays to God to look after her son as he voyages from America to England. Her parental anxiety is created by the memory of her experience of this trip. On her trip to America she wrote of arriving in June at the 'half dying, famine ridden frontier of Salem after a journey of 3 months of close quarters, raw nerves, sickness, hysteria and salt meat. ...read more.

Middle

His son can't be in too much danger as his anxiety is pronounced as comical. Thus Hood satirises the ode form. Bradstreet writes a 20 line prayer which emphasizes her pain at losing her son and her deep faith in God. She addresses God directly saying, 'Thou mighty God of sea and land' the use of the word 'thou' further exemplifies her love for God and recognition that he is all powerful. She believes God knows best, she prays that if she dies before her son's return that God will also save her a space in heaven so she may see him again, 'And if thou shalt spare me a space, That I again may see his face.' It's easy to see that Bradstreet anxiety for her son is indeed real! She feels no humour at a time like this and unlike Hood's anxiety, her anxiety at this time is indeed justified as her son is in real danger and could be fearing for his life. The tone of 'A Parental Ode' is shown to be loving, caring and tender. Hood's use of first person narration engages the reader and allows him to reveal his feelings of anxiety. He sets out to praise the qualities of his 3 year, 5 month old son, but there is much humour in his tone as his frustration grows as we, the reader, obverse his inability to cope any longer. For example, '(That dog will bite him if he pulls its tail!)' ...read more.

Conclusion

Although she is expressing parental anxiety for her son throughout her poem, she also expresses anxiety of getting into heaven. She is anxious about whether God will see her as fit for heaven. In contrast Hood writes in a much more effusive style than Bradstreet and this reflects the much less serious content of his poem as his praises his little son: 'Thou happy, happy elf! Thou pretty opening rose!' This poem relies heavily on a string of metaphors and similes to portray the boy as being perfect, 'Fresh as the morn and brilliant as its star.' However he also uses language to effectively illustrate how his idealised little angel is also a bold little boy, '(He's got the scissors, snipping at your gown!') His anxiety although it is in a way heartfelt, he cannot help but laugh at the things which his son does, this reveals the relaxed content of his poem and his attitude. I enjoyed studying both poems and I feel that the two poet's conveyed the universal them of parental anxiety very effectively through their words. I experienced sorrow for Bradstreet, but was also inspired by her faith. I think I preferred 'A Parental Ode' as I found it amusing but also beautiful. Hood's method of ironically contrasting perfect with what is actually going on has a direct impact on the reader and the observation of humour used is easy to explore and identify with. ?? ?? ?? ?? Laura Smyth ...read more.

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