Pike and Hunting Snake Comparison

8 August 2016

In the poems “The Hunting Snake” by Judith Wright and “Pike” by Ted Hughes a strong relationship between man and nature is explored and expressed. Judith Wright was an Australian poet, environmentalist and Aboriginal land rights campaigner. Ted Hughes was an English poet and children’s book writer. Themes discussed in his poems were mostly nature having being fascinated with them from an early age. He wrote frequently of the mixture of beauty and violence in the natural world. Both poets explore the appreciation that humans have for animals therefore creating a strong connection between the two.

There is however a strong disconnection that is brought on by the fear and lack of understanding of the animal world that humans have. These traits are shown through the captivation of the characters in the poems as well as a complete terror that the animals give them. We see that the characters in both poems have a deep admiration and captivation towards both animals in the poems. In “Hunting Snake” we see that the snake seems to be bewitching the two characters as they are so engrossed in the snake and the splendour it has. “Still as we stood our eyes went with him as he went”.

Pike and Hunting Snake Comparison Essay Example

Here we see that although they are terrified and dare not move as to disturb the snake, they also want to follow the snakes actions and see what it is doing. As well as this, the humans depict the snake as royalty as seen in Stanza 2. “Quested”, “parting grass”, “glazed” and finally, “diamond scale” all show this. Quested, meaning on a mission of some purpose could portray the snake as being a knight on a journey. This also relates to the “curves of diamond scale” which could be to demonstrate the amour that a knight would usually wear. Glazed could possibly describe the amour as being shiny.

Also, the way that the grass parts only for the snake could show that it is of some importance as it moves out of the way to let it through. In the poem “Pike”, we see this admiration and view of royalty and elegance again. “Tigering” and “stunned by their own grandeur” are just some of the words the poet used to describe the magnificent creature he sees. We see that the poet could be emphasising the eminence of the pike through the use of the word grandeur (grandeur meaning regal and royal). We also see this power through the use of the word “tigering” which refers to the tiger – which in the jungle is the king of its realm.

The poet also uses the names of jewels and gems to express this. For example, “gold”, “emerald” and “amber”. The dominance is also shown through the use of the quote, “a hundred feet long in their world”. This is a hyperbole as in the first stanza the poet describes them as being only 3 inches long however he sees them as so fierce that they are a hundred feet. The poet also seems to be enchanted by the bloodthirsty and predatory nature of this animal. Along with the fascination that the people have for the animals there is also a certain fear and angst towards them. Both of the animals are characterised as dark and evil.

They portray the antagonist in the narrative style of poem. The human characters (who are most likely the protagonist characters) feel inferior towards these dominant creatures and have a terror for the reality that is the fact that the animals have natural weapons and killer instincts. In “Hunting Snake” the two characters do not dare move or think of what the snake is up to on its “quest”. There are a few quotes which express this feeling – “we lost breath”, “fled”, “scarcely thought”, “still as we stood”, “cold, dark and splendid” and finally, “took a deeper breath of day”.

The fact that the characters lose breath when the snake is present could show that they do not want to make even the slightest sound as it may pose a threat to the snake or make it aroused. When the snake goes away however they “take a deeper breath of day”. This could show the relief that they have as they are no longer prey for the snake but it is also a moment of appreciation, not just for the fact that they are safe from the snake but also for what they have just witnessed. It is an “epiphany” moment for them as they have just witnessed something rare that they think of life differently.

Flee meaning run away from a place or situation of danger expresses the. This could relate to “scarcely thought”. In this situation the characters could think that they are going to be the victims or the prey of the snake, or that they don’t want to think of the horrible torture that the prey will endure. Either way it shows that they fear the snake and its hunter instinct. The word “froze” is also used to show the fear and stillness the characters have. Freezing being a result of extreme cold – the snake is later referred to as “cold”.

Cold could also mean evil, wicked, etc. Originally the poet of “Pike” shows an admiration for the pike and its murderous personality as seen in the 4th stanza. During the 7th stanza we see that the poet begins to record experiences through anecdotes. In particular, this fear is shown in these last 5 stanzas. We see the strength of the cannibalistic nature and from that strength, the unease that comes with it. For example, “one jammed past its gills down the others gullet” and “iron” – both from stanza 7.

We see here the brutal attack on one another. Iron is used to show the stubbornness and power that they have as iron is a strong and fixed material. We see fear in the last 3 stanzas through the story of the fisherman. The character describes the pike as “immense” – meaning extremely large and great. However, he describes himself as “frail” – meaning weak, vulnerable and delicate. This shows the contrast between the two characters and the dominance that the animal has. We also see fear through “dared not cast” and “for what might move”.

Here we see that the fisherman does not want to cast in the water as it might stir the pike. This is similar to the stillness of the two people in “Hunting Snake”. We see that the fisherman wants to see the pike as he finds it magnificent but he doesn’t want to find it as of what may happen to him. The poet also uses the word “frozen” to depict fear. This could relate back to the “Hunting Snake” as in the first stanza the word “froze” is used to represent the fear that the people have for the snake. Finally, the poet says that “darkness had freed”.

The darkness represents the pike. Darkness meaning absence of light – light is purity and positivity so here we see that the pike, again, is seen as evil and wicked. Once more, this relates to “Hunting Snake” as the snake is described as “black” and “dark”. In conclusion, the humans have a strong relationship with nature both for good and for bad. They have an attraction to these creatures that brings them delight or gives them a new perspective but they also have a lack of understanding due to the fear of approaching them and observing them closely.

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