AP English Literature
25 November 2014
Heroic Couplet: ‘Twas the Night before Christmas and The J Car
The Heroic Couplet is made up of double consecutive rhyming verses. It is written in iambic pentameter, usually with more than one caesura. The subject matter of the Heroic Couplet is high in significance. Such characteristic is due to the fact that couplets were historically part of a poem, usually the ending verses of a sonnet. Couplets concluded sonnets with the strongest statement of the whole poem, and therefore each couplet that forms part of the Heroic Couplet is also high in significance. “‘Twas the Night before Christmas” and “The J Car” are both Heroic Couplets. Characterized by their rhyming couplet, use of caesura, rhythmic end-stop rhymes, both poems share the qualities of a Heroic Couplet. “The J Car” exemplifies how heroic couplets deal with a high subject matter, as it speaks of sickness and death. “’Twas the Night Before Christmas”, although having a lighter tone, also deals with a high subject matter, relative to its theme, tone, and mood.
“The J Car” is classified as a Heroic Couplet due to its rhyming pairs, use of caesura, end-stop rhyming, and high subject matter. The couplets are seen throughout the whole poem: the rhyming goes AABBCCDDEEFFGG…etc. Furthermore, caesura is extensively used, as can be seen in line 3: “Their ordered privacy, their plots of flowers.” This caesura is followed by an end-stop rhyming verse: “Like blameless lives we might imagine ours.” Elements like these are seen throughout the whole poem. “The J Car” also has the characteristic high subject matter of the Heroic Couplet. Various couplets throughout the poem have an impacting significance. For example, lines 3-4 read “Their ordered privacy, their plots of flowers/ Like blameless lives we might imagine ours.” Another example reads “Back to my health. Of course I simplify./ Of course. It tears me still that he should die”. This couplet...
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