The Jaguar By Ted Hughes

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The jaguar by ted Hughes

In stanza 1, an image of distorted nature commences. The opening line ‘the apes yawn and adore their fleas in the sun’ presents an oxymoron that evokes a sense of both boredom and decay for the reader. The aural imagery and onomatopoeia of ‘the parrots shriek’ is complemented by two similes ‘as if they were on fire’ and ‘strut like cheap tarts’ to add visual imagery, parrots that are acting desperately and unnaturally for attention and food

In stanza 2, the empty cage ‘stinks of sleepers from the breathing straw!’ though both sibilance and olfactory imagery ‘stinks of sleepers’ the reader comprehends the unhealthy, foetid environment. The personification in ‘breathing straw’ suggests the straw has more presence than caged animals. The reader sees and smells a dark prison with animals.

In stanza 3 the precise scene outside and inside the jaguar’s cage is created firstly by the ‘crowd, stands, stares mesmerised’. The sibilance evokes the sound of the scene: vast numbers of people, in silence, so we hear only breathing or the sound of ‘hushing’ others. The actual jaguar is ‘hurrying enraged through prison darkness after the drills of eyes’. The metaphor and visual imagery of ‘prison darkness’ suggests the bars or window of the enclosure and lack of light. The ‘drill of his eyes’ are silhouetted against the darkness, so the focus of the image is centre of glowing yellow eyes.

The jaguar’s mind envious his freedom so that he is physically trapped yet mentally free. The reader sees what the jaguar sees in his own mind through series of metaphors. ‘His stride is wilderness of freedom’ suggests the jaguar moving freely in his natural habitat, the grasslands and plains of Africa. In ‘ the world rolls under the long thrust of his heel’ the jaguar is moving so swiftly and powerfully that we see only blurs of landscape. Our focus is on the sleek, muscle body of the jaguar. The final metaphor ‘over the cage floor the horizon come’...