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AS and A Level: Ted Hughes

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Top tips for writing about Ted Hughes and his work

  1. 1 Hughes was fascinated by the harsh and brutal cruelty of the animal world.
  2. 2 Simon Armitage said that for Hughes, poetry was ‘a connecting rod between nature and humanity’.
  3. 3 Consider the different perspectives in Hughes’ poems; for example, he uses a subjective tone in Hawk Roosting. In others, he directly addresses the reader.
  4. 4 Consider the symbolic power of Hughes’ poems. The animals could be interpreted as metaphors for his views on humanity and society: what, for example, might the hawk or the jaguar suggest about human nature?
  5. 5 Have a think about Hughes’ style. His language is often concrete and economical, yet retains a powerful impact. Hughes also varies his use of structural devices (rhythm, rhyme etc.). What do you think the effects of these choices are?

Writing about Hughes' poetry

  1. 1 Hughes’ poetry was often inspired by his experiences, such as his childhood in Yorkshire. However, it is important to understand the difference between the poet and the narrative persona created in the poems.
  2. 2 The perspective, tone and register of the narrator are good places to start analysis. Remember that these differ across Hughes’ poems.
  3. 3 Look for patterns and oppositions that emerge.
  4. 4 Consider effects of poetic techniques, for example use of symbolism (a key technique in Hughes’ poems) or phonological devices (to do with sounds).
  5. 5 Consider the effects of structure (e.g. number of verses, line length, rhythm, rhyme etc.) and form (e.g. free verse) as well as language.

Key things to remember when writing essays

  1. 1 All essays should be well planned with clear points. This will help to create a structured essay.
  2. 2 Introductions should clearly show they are answering the question.
  3. 3 Each paragraph should ideally begin with a topic sentence which addresses the question, evidence from the poem/s to support the point (with quotes embedded), and detailed analysis using technical terminology. This can be known as P.E.E (Point, Evidence, Explain).
  4. 4 If relevant, some biographical information about Hughes and the influences on his poetry can contribute to an essay.
  5. 5 Some comparisons with other poems can develop analysis but remember to always adhere to the question.

  • Marked by Teachers essays 1
  1. Analysis of the poem Wind

    is being affected by the wind and it gives the reader the image of then landscape being afraid of the wind, the line 'fields quivering' especially gives this impression because you can imagine the fields sort of trembling in fear as the wind passes. The poet uses onomatopoeia in his poem such as 'crashing' and 'booming', which emphasizes the horror of the night and the darkness and how loud the wind is. Then it says that the 'day rose' and everything is fine again, now that the shadows are gone, whereas before the hills were 'booming' they are now quiet and are 'new places'.

    • Word count: 937
  2. How Does Hughes Create An Effective Description of a Windy Day?

    He often uses interesting lexis to help our imaginations. Hughes uses a lot of figurative language in this poem. One particularly effective technique is metaphor. He starts the poem with the metaphor - "This house has been far out at sea all night" This is very effective because it creates a very strong picture in your mind. "Far out" suggests isolation, and a mention of night suggests danger and fear. Another effective example of metaphor is "The skyline a grimace".

    • Word count: 417
  3. An essay on Ted Hughes' 'The Jaguar' that differentiates between the jaguar and the animals

    This lack of physical movement is further evidenced in the next stanza, where Hughes uses metaphorical language, calling the coils of the boa constrictor a 'fossil'. Here it is almost as if he is implying that the animals lie so still all the time they seem to have died already. Apart from the idea of indolence and sleep-inducing inertia, there is a sense of eternal exhaustion bordering slightly on decrepitude. Hughes writes that each cage 'seems empty, or Stinks of sleepers from the breathing straw', which suggests the degree of uncleanliness of the cages; either they are laden with the excrement of the animals they incarcerate or the carcasses of the animals themselves.

  4. Compare and contrast the treatment of weeds in these two poems. Consider connotations, tones and attitudes expressed, language techniques used and ideas derived from each and say which you prefer and why.

    One comparison that can be made between the poems is that the title of each poem has negative connotations. "Nettles" and "Thistles" are both annoying, spiky, irritating weeds. The connotations and ideas derived from these titles give the reader expectations of the poem as being negative and pessimistic, the reader has already formed opinions and prejudices towards the subjects of these poems based on the 'baggage' attached to these weeds. The ideas formed from reading the title of each poem are the same for both poems, thus there is an obvious comparison between the two poems in this respect.

    • Word count: 816

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