Ted Hughes’ poem "Hawk Roosting” Acknowledging the “Master and Slave Dialectic”
Mr. Fateh Khan Lecturer Department of English language and literature, Gomal University, Dera Ismail Khan.
In “Hawk roosting”, Ted Hughes adopts the portrait of a hawk and shows us the world from his prospective. Literally, the poem revolves around the mind and behavior of this arrogant hawk. The hawk is at the top of power in the wood. He seems omnipotent and shows arrogance. The hawk represents the Nazi Germany and has the same traits as a dictator. In this poem, he is so single-minded and so arrogant that he becomes a parody of human’s authority. Ted Hughes reveals to the reader the hawk's total utter disrespect to his creator through his arrogance. “Hawk roosting” has been analyzed by many critics unfolding the various aspects of it but it has not been completely explored by the vast medium of mind. This paper is an attempt to discuss the poem through Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind in which the hawk believes in “Master and Slave dialectic” Key Word: - Ted Hughes’ Poem “Hawk Roosting”
The superiority of the hawk over all other beings would be the focal point of the entire discussion. The "Hawk Roosting" by Ted Hughes' is one of the earliest poems in which Hughes used birds and animals to imply the nature of man and to reveal fact about how much of man's behavior is instinctual, as opposed to how much of man is ruled by his divine, or God-like, side.1 The hawk, who is the first-person speaker of this poem, speaks entirely of instinctual actions, giving examples of actions that are natural to hawks but repugnant to creatures of conscience2. In fact, Ted Hughes discusses a hawk, his power and his superiority over all beings. Therefore, Ted Hughes humanizes the hawk to underline the negative qualities which exist almost in every human. The hawk is attributed with human characteristics, behavior and even motivation. These aspects are presented in the poem quite clearly to ensure that the reader comprehends that the hawk is a symbol of man. In fact, the body parts of the hawk are humanized because they are referred to as “head” and “feet” instead of the biological names. The poem is about a hawk, resting high up in a tree. Through a dramatic monologue, the poem reveals the hawk to be a steady-minded, rational and believable character. The hawk seems to see himself as the centre of universe and creates an impression of arrogance, as though the world is made for him and for his purposes. In the very first stanza, Ted Hughes begins to hint that what sort of personality the hawk has. “I sit in the top of the wood, my eyes closed.”(Ted Hughes’s Hawk Roosing-1) The above line suggests that the hawk has no fear. This is shown by the words “eyes closed.” Word “top” signifies the superiority of the hawk because he simply does not sit in the wood but he sits in the top of the wood. His status is above all other birds and animals in the forest and he symbolizes the superiority of man over all other living things on the earth. So this high position is an indication of superiority. "My manner is tearing off heads /for the one path of my flight is direct / through the bones of the living." (“Hawk Roosting” 19-20) The stark lack of emotion in this voice, along with the intelligence of the word choices and the pride the hawk feels for himself, have led some readers to believe that the author's intention in writing this poem was to glorify violence, or at least to make violent behavior acceptable. Ted Hughes answered this charge directly in a 1971 interview while` saying, "Actually what I had in mind was that in this hawk, Nature is thinking. Simply Nature. It's not so simple because maybe Nature is no longer so...
References: 1. North, Stephen M. The making of Knowledge in Composition. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1987.
2. Hegel, G.F.W. Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences, Translated By William Wallace, London: Oxford University Press, 1985. P. 141
3. Hegel, G.F.W. The Phenomenology of Mind, "The Truth of Self-Certainty. P. 115
4. Hughes, Ted. Hawk Roosting, “In poetry for Students, Vol. 4, Gale Research, 1998.
5. Hawk Roosting Analysis, an essay by ju f2f, College, undergraduate, April, 2004. Retrieved on April, 25, 2013.
6. Waterman, Joseph. The life, work and death of Self-Consciousness in Hegel 's Master- Slave Dialectic, Boston University press, Massachusetts.
7. Ruwan M Jayatunge. Filed under History of Wars, The Psychology of Nazism, P. 351
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