The Jaguar Ted Hughes
Aims and Objectives • To examine the imagery in The Jaguar • To explore the relation of form and function to the content of the poem
Discussion - Starter • Are you for or against zoos? • The Jaguar is an endangered species – should it then be kept in captivity as a way to preserve the species? • If/when you go to the zoo – where do people stay the longest – at which animal? Which animals do you spend the longest with and why?
Imagery in The Jaguar The poem invites us to contrast the nature of the jaguar to that of the other zoo animals. • What are the key differences between the Jaguar and the other animals in the zoo? • Why has the Jaguar failed to accept his imprisonment? • Why do the crowds rush past the other animals to see the jaguar?
Imagery in The Jaguar • What are the key differences between the Jaguar and the other animals in the zoo? • The Jaguar is alert to his surroundings • He hasn’t accepted his captivity – he is still wild • The Jaguar is angry at his captivity • He isn’t bored • The tourists are more interested in him because he still has life, spirit and is more conventionally what (they believe) they have paid to see.
Imagery in The Jaguar • Why has the Jaguar failed to accept his imprisonment? • The Jaguar refuses to accept the limitations of his caged freedom. • ‘There’s no cage to him’ – His spirit refuses to be subdued by physical captivity. • Like a messiah figure, he seems visionary and spontaneous. All other animals are inanimate in comparison. • It could be that he will come to accept his imprisonment – we’ll return to this point later!
Imagery in The Jaguar • Why do the crowds rush past the other animals to see the jaguar? • The other animals are regarded by the visitors as a mere group of uninteresting objects, deprived of their natural vitality and therefore unjustly now dismissed. • Humans crave sensations and excitement and only the untamed, proud and frustrated jaguar can give the visitors what they believe they have ‘bought’ or paid for. • Hughes is revealing the disturbing and cruel commodification of nature for human gratification
Imagery in The Jaguar • What is the significance of the following lines: ‘The parrots shriek as if they were on fire or strut/ Like cheap tarts to attract the stroller with the nut. ’ ‘The boa-constrictor’s coil/Is a fossil’ ‘It might be painted on a nursery wall’
Imagery in The Jaguar • What is the significance of the following lines: ‘The parrots shriek as if they were on fire or strut/ Like cheap tarts to attract the stroller with the nut. ’ The parrots feel like they’re on fire, perhaps they are chained? They are stressed and are reduced to seeking attention in desperate and pitiful ways – all for a ‘nut’ from disinterested tourists.
Imagery in The Jaguar • What is the significance of the following lines: ‘The boa-constrictor’s coil/Is a fossil’ Creates the impression this snake has not moved in a very long time and may as well be dead for all the ‘entertainment’ it provides the tourists Metaphor – The use of enjambment here makes the sentence coil like a boa constrictor from one line to the next
Imagery in The Jaguar • What is the significance of the following lines: ‘It might be painted on a nursery wall’ The images of normal ferocious, wild animals like tigers, are so placid that they are suitable for a nursery wall – still & unmoving/ threatening
Light and Dark imagery in The Jaguar • Look at the following lines: ‘…at a jaguar hurrying enraged Through prison darkness after the drills of his eyes On a short fierce fuse, Not in boredom – By the bang of blood in the brain…’ • What language features does Hughes use and what do they suggest? • Highlight any lexical items relating to vision, light and darkness.
Light and Dark imagery in The Jaguar Metaphor – there is a wild anger, a rage deep/ rooted in his eyes and this serves to captivate his audience. ‘prison darkness’- links to entrapment & contrasts earlier sun. • Look at the following lines: ‘…at a jaguar hurrying enraged Through prison darkness after the drills of his eyes On a short fierce fuse, Not in boredom – The eye satisfied to be blind in fire, By the bang of blood in the brain…’ Personification – His satisfied eye is a sort of baptismal light that makes the jaguar so alive, that his feelings ironically render him blind too. Content in his own ability to not conform. Alliteration reflects the sheer volume of blood racing to his head as he imagines freedom and a wild ‘elsewhere’ which makes him ‘deaf’ to his predicament too. Plosive ‘b’ suggests violence of blood pumping through body. • What language features does Hughes use and what do they suggest? • Highlight any lexical items relating to vision, light and darkness. Sun, fire, mesmerised, darkness, eyes, blind, visionary, horizons
Structure and Form • 5 quatrains – 3 of which dedicated to the Jaguar. • ABBA rhyme scheme in stanzas 1 -4, then ABAB in stanza 5. • What else do you notice about the rhyme scheme? • Why do you think the rhyme scheme in stanza 5 changes?
Structure and Form • What else do you notice about the rhyme scheme? Irregular rhyme scheme. Unfashionable to rhyme? Hughes is interested in form. The discordance of these near rhyme reinforces the image of the zoo. The fact the pairs please neither the eye nor the ear means the poet and reader participates in the state of the jaguar – ‘deaf the ear’ and ‘the eye satisfied to be blind’. • Why do you think the rhyme scheme in stanza 5 changes? Changes to ABAB so A = cell and B = Freedom The inner pair of rhymes (bb) is caged by the outer pair (a- - a). In the last stanza the pattern is broken. The Bs are uncaged effectively symbolizing the Jaguar’s ‘wilderness of freedom’.
Punctuation • Poetry is not all about imagery! • Look at Stanza 1. There is a full stop in sentence one and enjambment between lines 2 to 3. What could this reflect? • Stanza 3 is an entire sentence and runs into stanza 4. What could this symbolise given the content of the stanza? • Stanzas 4 -5 is one long sentence – what could this symbolise?
Punctuation • Look at Stanza 1. There is a full stop in sentence one and enjambment between lines 2 to 3. What could this reflect? The first line is end-stopped. This is symbolic – enhancing the content of the line. The lack of movement of the yawning apes is symbolised by the lack of movements in the sentence itself. The enjambment in lines 2 -3 mimics the strutting of the shrieking parrots. The strutting is also metrically reinforced by the fact that the predominant pentameter pattern of the poem is broken by line 2 which ‘struts’ on for an extra foot.
Punctuation • Stanza 3 is an entire sentence and runs into stanza 4. What could this symbolise given the content of the stanza? This sentence ‘runs’ across every line boundary in the 3 rd stanza and across the space into stanza 4 – this symbolises the rushing zoo visitor and the Jaguar. Metric feet – ‘At a cage where the crowd stands, stares, mesmerized’ The running of the metrical feet comes to an abrupt halt as the crowd of stressed syllables (4 in a row) piles up, standing ‘mesmerised’ at the Jaguar.
Punctuation • Stanzas 4 -5 is one long sentence – what could this symbolise? Long sentence is not ‘caged’ or confined by the constraints of stanzaic structure and could reflect how the Jaguar is undefeated by his cage. The fact that there is enjambment on the last line emphasises the words there: ‘…there’s no cage to him/ More than to the visionary his cell: His stride is wilderness of freedom: The world rolls under the long thrust of his heel. ’ One could even argue the use of colons here links theme of vision – colons looks like eyes and the Jaguar sees his captivity – he sees the truth - that he is
Final Ideas • On the phonological level: • Lion = lie on • Tiger = fatigued. • Jaguar could be seen as a call for liberty, for bravery in the face of any form of oppression where an individual refuses to compromise their integrity to suit those in power. • Perhaps the other animals have got Stockholm Syndrome? • To conclude – do you think the Jaguar will inevitably come to accept his captivity?
Final Ideas • To conclude – do you think the Jaguar will inevitably come to accept his captivity? ‘The four stages of adaptation to a catastrophe that we are powerless to change…denial, depression, anger and acceptance. Hughes’ jaguar is still in classic denial. “The animal’s stare is a refusal to acknowledge or to be fettered by the external surface world at all” writes Thomas West. He sees himself as free, refuses to admit his helplessness; he is “hurrying enraged”…Viewed thus, the jaguar is hardly ‘triumphant’ but rather pitifully blind to his fate… If we now look back to stanzas 1 and 2, we find that the rest of the animals are already at the acceptance stage to the point of loving their captivity. ’ Bernhard Frank, 2007