Hughes deliberately creates myth to ‘correct’ the fundamental flaw in western thinking, which is the separation from nature. His intent to metaphorically bring attention to the psyche of society, brought upon by WWII, through animals and the disconnection from nature is expressed in both ‘The Jaguar’ and ‘Wodwo’. These poems focus on the centrality of consciousness, the flaws of humanity and Hughes concern with the need to reconnect with nature due to the trauma of the twentieth century. Hughes is able to create visionary poetry through the structure and techniques within both ‘The Jaguar’ and ‘Wodwo’.
In Ted Hughes’ poem the jaguar the centrality of consciousness and the perception of the animals reveals something about the observers consciousness. The instinctive human emotions are expressed subconsciously and metaphorically. ‘The Jaguar’ effectively presents the complexity of the natural world. We see how the literal representation of animals transcends into the imaginative realm. Hughes draws influence from his context as he attempts to uphold Romantic poetic traditions – in particular the appreciation of nature – in the face of Modernism and ‘the Movement’ threat. We see this immediately in the beginning through the use of animal imagery and stretched assonance (“yawn and adore”) in “The apes yawn and adore their fleas in the sun”. Here, the dullness of entrapped animal life serves as a metaphor for the monotony of human life that lacks freedom of thought due to the expectations of society.
In many ways, this reflects Hughes’ frustrations about his mid-20th century context where scientific and technological change resulted in a loss of tradition with a lack of appreciation for nature. This sentiment is furthered through the repetition of “cage” and the sibilance in “cage after cage seems empty, or stinks of sleepers from the breathing straw”, which serves to emphasise Hughes’ dissatisfaction with the seemingly endless nature of this entrapment. The...
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