In ‘Mid-Term Break’ by Seamus Heaney and ‘The Lesson’ by Edward Lucie-Smith a similar impact is achieved through alternative means; Heaney uses language to set up a contrast whereas Lucie-Smith uses irony. Both techniques are striking and subtly interwoven throughout the poems, in order to describe the devastating theme of death from a child’s perspective. The techniques selected introduce this emotionally draining theme from a perspective not often considered, therefore forcing the reader to empathise with the persona, and begin to question their views on specific issues.
In ‘Mid-Term Break’, contrast was used to represent how the persona’s life has changed and will never return to its normal state. First of all, the father’s reaction in the second stanza: ‘In the porch I met my father crying – He had always taken funerals in his stride’ indicating that the father wouldn’t usually be crying at a funeral. This is a different matter, a new experience, which has come as a shock. Then the baby ‘cooed and laughed and rocked the pram’, at a wake no one laughs, this is incongruous. The idea being that his family are acting in such an alien way. ‘Old men standing up to shake my hand’ is another contrast; normally the children would stand up to respect their elders. This shows the reader how alien an experience this is for the persona. Another contrast, his mother ‘coughed out angry tearless sighs’ we would expect a stereotypical mother to be crying her heart out when her child had died. Heaney uses the technique of contrast throughout the poem to continually convey the fact that this event has changed the boy’s life forever by showing the contrast of the strange way the family act compared to the expected behaviour of stereotypical characters at this sad event. Through this technique, Heaney evokes sympathy for the persona from the audience because the persona has a child’s perspective and with each contrast the reader empathises with the persona.
Striking use of...
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