‘The Cockroach’ by Kevin Halligan is a poem about reflection on life through watching the movement of a cockroach. Through the use of structure, detailed description of cockroach as an extended metaphor of the persona, the theme of confusion and realization of life is well conveyed. Halligan describes a frantic movement of the cockroach throughout the poem. The title foreshadows and reveals that the poem is about a small and trifle insect- a cockroach. However, the poem opens with the exaggeration of it ‘a giant cockroach’. This highlights that he is observing it very closely feeling as if it is a ‘giant’. The word ‘giant’ also conveys that it is not only an insect but also a device to reflect on life giving it great importance with the repetition of word ‘cockroach’ in the title and first line. The movement of the cockroach is closely described. The detailed description draws an image of the cockroach in the readers’ minds and this allows them to engage in the poem. It ‘pace’ ‘skirting’ ‘jog’ ‘circle’ ‘flip’ ‘climb’ signifying that the persona is watching the cockroach as if it is a human being not a trifle insect in an objective view. This foreshadows the twist at the end which is that the poet is the subject of the poem. The persona can even sense how it feels and thinks; ‘he seemed quite satisfied’ ‘he looked uncertain where to go’. These illustrate that the cockroach begins to feel distracted and confused suggesting that the persona involves his thoughts to it. Therefore this, in turn, involves the readers in the poem furthermore. The cockroach is an extended metaphor of the persona and human being. The cockroach moves through ‘a path between the wainscot and the door’ which symbolizes a steady path that people follow early in life. But, ‘soon he turned to jog in crooked rings’ suggests human being’s confusion in later life reinforcing a sense of confusion of human being through an image of cockroach. Following Halligan, the readers also...
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