The Jaguar, by Ted Hughes

Essay by seaweedHigh School, 12th gradeB, May 2004

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In The Jaguar the first two verses are used to describe the zoo in which the animal resides. He slowly builds up to the Jaguar by describing the docile animals around and creating the atmosphere of almost unsettling stillness. He emphasises this disturbing aspect of the zoo with similes such as 'parrots shriek as if they were on fire' and " strut like cheap tarts". This builds visual imagery in the audience's mind as it emphasizes the lack of movement in the first stanza. The use of enjambment further reinforces the sense of motionlessness of these animals. The tigers and lions, animals that are thought of as fierce and ferocious, as described here as sleeping and fatigued in order to create contrast with the jaguar, so that its brutality and energy is enhanced.

The next stanza continues from stanza one and begins with 'lie still as the sun'. This phrase illustrates the ordinariness and dullness of the animals because of the sharp sounds of each word.

Hughes again uses metaphors to appeal to the audience's sense of sight in describing the boa constrictor as fossils, which strengthens the image of the animal as timeworn and ancient as a result of their captivity. Alliteration is immediately followed as can be seen in the phrase 'Stinks of sleepers from the breathing straw'. The reoccurring 's' sound parallels the ordinariness and monotonousness of the animals at the zoo.

The third stanza begins to introduce the jaguar as the poet describes the way the visitors flock towards it cage to see the graceful and deadly animal mesmerised by its stare and by a morbid fascination with death. The continuous flow of the first two stanzas ends from the beginning of the third stanza, which contains the description of the jaguar, this structure of enjambment...