An Ideal Craftsman

2 February 2017

In Walter de la Mare’s “An Ideal Craftsman” the main theme is evil in unexpected places. The story shows that evil can be found in anyone, that anyone can commit acts that are wrong even those that we consider to be pure and incapable of wrong acts and sin. “An Ideal Craftsman” tells the story of a murder. A young boy sets off on an adventure in the middle of the night. He is awoken by a noise and sets off to the kitchen to commit a raid on Jacob. The title of the story takes on a whole new meaning once you have read the story. De la Mare uses a play on the word “craftsman”.

The little boy is the ‘craftsman’ of the story. He orchestrates how the murder of Jacobs should be covered up to make it look as though he had committed suicide. The title is ironic. The many references to animals and animal noises throughout the story symbolize wickedness and immorality. One of the reoccurring animal references through the story is the one to a crow. Crows are often used as the symbol of death; they are considered a bad omen. It was once believed that witches and sorcerers used the foot of a crow when casting death spells.

An Ideal Craftsman Essay Example

Another animal reference that reoccurred throughout the story is how the little boy keeps referencing to himself as a ferret and ferret like. Ferrets are members of the weasel family. Implying that the little boy is sneaky and conniving. There is a quality of the young boy that shows his innocence up until the point he meets the woman who was Jacob’s lover in the kitchen and he realizes she has just murdered Jacob.

The little boy makes the statement that “Jacobs was just the kind of person you’d expect to be a murderer. Not this woman, so fat and stupid (pg. 14)”, again this shows that bad deeds can come from unexpected places. Just as the young boy can’t imagine this woman being a murderer, one would also not expect a boy of his age to have the mind that this is something that she must cover up, let alone have a plan as to how she would be able to do so. Just as the woman asks the little boy for help, “Where’s the gate? Where’s the gate, I say? I got lost there among them bushes. I can’t get out. D’ye see? I’ve lost the gate. It’s dark. It’s come on raining. Where’s the gate? (pg. 211)” The use of light in the story is an important symbol used by de la Mare.

It is almost a separate character in the story as de la Mare describes wickedness through the dark imagery of the story. Setting — kids house (what the kid would know – his whole world) Point of view – of the child (first, second or third person? ) Characters—the kid, Jacob, the woman in the bonnet Symbolism—description of sounds, darkness, rain, silver night (silver lining? ) At first you think that he is a young naive boy and then he turns out to be.. Something about alcohol?

Excuse for bad behavior? Hum in his coffin / pg. 203, valley of death/ pg 203; walls draped with the very darkness of night pg. 04; dark shapes of the heavy furniture, as he stalked on through out this luminous twilight pg. 204; Black bonnet (again dark comes into play) Darkness used as lack of righteousness Candle/ death connection Darkness used to symbolize death Valley of death? – pg. 203 Nocturnal is used to describe Jacobs pg 203 Crow used as symbol on page 204 right after valley of death? Again on 204, squawk used on 206 Crow is used as bad omen, problems, and death … crow is omen of death and conflict.

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An Ideal Craftsman. (2017, Feb 05). Retrieved July 29, 2021, from
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