Discuss how Yeats uses the theme of the supernatural in "The Cat and the Moon".

Authors Avatar by kartikayguptalivecouk (student)

Discuss how Yeats explores the concept of the supernatural and human nature in The Cat and The Moon

“The Cat and The Moon” is a poem centred on the forces at work in life and the mystical views which exist way beyond the simple rational views.  The poem is very much similar as it works on one level, which is the celebration of the cat and the moon but, it also is semi- magical as it describes an unconscious relationship between the cat and the moon. The simplicity and the complexity of the poem can only be explained as a supernatural relationship and are very much reflective of humans; and how they perceive the world around themselves. The cat, Minnaloushe, perhaps is Yeats’s expression for his love Maud Gonne and that he still has feelings for her.

Yeats expresses his undying love for Maud Gonne in “The Cat and The Moon” by using her cat in the poem. This can be seen by the use of the definitive article “The” in the title of the poem showing that the cat is someone specific in Yeats’s mind. Also, the theme of romance is present through the pure, untainted image of the moon in the sky; “pure cold light in the sky” which can perhaps be seen a as a metaphor for Yeats’s pure and ever-present love for her.  Additionally, as the moon is always present in the sky, yet not seen for half the day can possibly show that Maud Gonne doesn’t recognise Yeats’s love and hence does not reciprocate the same feelings for him. Also, Yeats’s frustration at failing to get Maud Gonne’s approval after five proposals is seen by “Maybe the moon may learn”. The fact that the moon is failing to learn the cat’s dance can perhaps be a metaphor for Yeats not understanding how to please Maud Gonne. This is further accentuated by “Tired of that courtly fashion” as Yeats is so frustrated that he has given up on being “courtly” and no longer feels the need to be polite to her. However, the moon can also be interpreted in terms of Yeats’s opinions of Maud Gonne. This is due to the moon being be traditional symbol for a woman, and the changing phases of the moon from “crescent to round” can suggest Yeats’s anger at the lack of Maud Gonne’s constancy as she was known to change her mind often. Henceforth, the moonlight can be seen as a torment for Yeats as he cannot get her off his mind as it’s ever-present but, simultaneously he admires her importance as without the moon it will be dark at night. Moreover, there are many differences between the cat and the moon. To begin with, there is the physical barrier between the cat and the moon as they are so far apart; also the cat is black while the moon is white which creates a stark contrast perhaps reflecting on the personalities of Yeats and Gonne. Similarly, Yeats’s love for Maud Gonne is shown in “Broken Dreams”, a poem for which Maud Gonne is the muse. Yeats dedicates the poem to her beauty, “Heaven has put away her stroke of doom”. The comparing of Maud Gonne to heaven itself is a metaphor of her sheer beauty and it puts forward the idea that she cannot be obtained in real life. However, in the same poem he refers to her leaving “Vague memories, nothing but memories” showing that Yeats’s feelings for Maud Gonne have subsided and that he is no longer in love with her. This is further accentuated by the fact that “Broken Dreams” was written in 1917, after Yeats’s last proposal to her. These feelings of love are very much reflective of human nature, as they show persistence and sense of abandonment.

Join now!

“The Cat and the Moon” has an underlying theme of complexity which is portrayed via concealed relationship of the cat and the moon. The cat is seen to be entranced by the moon as if it recognises it and there is a past between them. This is expressed by the cat “look[ing] up” and then following it by “star[ing]” at it. The transformation from a glance to a stare shows a sense of supernatural connection between the cat and the moon. Additionally, the hypnotic and soothing sound generated by “wander and wail” shows that the cat is amazed by the ...

This is a preview of the whole essay