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Critical Analysis Of Ted Hughes The Wind English Literature Essay

Ted Hughes wrote his poem ‘The Wind’ in 1966, like many of his works it is a poem largely focussed on nature. In particular, this poem represents the violence in the natural world and leaves the reader feeling somewhat disturbed by its imagery and the meaning that it may imply. In ‘The Wind’ Ted Hughes is describing a storm, through the strength of the imagery that he creates, he gives a sense that the weather is alive and therefore the storm has a personality of its own. There is a large contrast between the weather and the people sheltering in the house in ‘The Wind’, this contrast passes the perhaps larger message that Hughes is trying to portray. The people seem defenceless and small in comparison to the force of ‘The Wind’ and moreover the natural world. That being said, ‘The Wind’ is centrally a poem about relationships; the relationship between people and the natural world.

The poem begins with the disturbing metaphor “This house has been far out at sea all night”, giving the impression that the house is like a boat lost at sea. After the initial storm, the feeling of destruction continues “Rang like some fine green goblet” this immediately gives the impression that the storm is alive, and leaves the reader picturing it as monstrous. The people “Now deep in chairs” appear fragile in comparison to this force and “grip” their hearts conveying the image that they are frightened of the natural world. Moreover, the metaphors describing “The woods crashing through darkness, the booming hills” gives the idea that even the house has been attacked all night, as if by powerful waves of this metaphorical sea on which it is forcefully being sailed through. The personification on “The woods crashing” and “winds stampeding” also continues the imagery that the woods and winds are alive and have a personality. The later, “That any second would shatter it” portrays the idea that the house is threatened by nature, and therefore the people cannot defend themselves from its powerful force. This idea is further enforced by the people “seeing the window tremble to come in” in the sense that the house wants to surrender to the storm, and therefore the nature is a force far more powerful than humans, this sets the image of the wind being like a giant in comparison to the people.

Furthermore, the disturbing imagery becomes more apparent when even the dawn does not bring peace and the storm continues “Till day rose”. Personification on the word “rose” here also gives the feeling that nature is alive, as though it is getting out of bed. The further use of alliteration of “wind wielded” echoes the sound of the wind, and the simile of it “Flexing like the lens of a mad eye” carries on the continuing personification that wind has a personality; the wind is wild as though it is mad. The idea of the wind being angry is again highlighted “Through the brunt wind that dented”, giving the image that it is a threat to the narrator and could destroy them. Even the hills are no match for the wind as “The tent of the hills drummed and strained its guyrope”, this description of the hills being like a tent makes them appear weak, having the potential to be blown away by the strength of this storm. Hughes continues to personify the surroundings with “The fields quivering, the skyline a grimace”, making a stronger sense of fear as if the wind is a monster in which the world cannot take on. The ongoing idea that the wind is alive is extended once again when “The wind flung a magpie away” making the imagery become more disturbing, in the sense that the wind intentionally threw the bird and therefore its personality becomes even more evil.

‘The Wind’ is structured in six stanzas of four line couplets; each stanza continues the personification of the wind being alive. However, with every stanza we read this theme becomes more apparent through the use of strong imagery, and therefore more disturbing as the poem unfolds. Although this poem appears to be centrally about the relationship between people and the natural world being portrayed as negative, Hughes also uses a metaphor of the people watching “the fire blazing, And feel the roots of the house move”, in this instance the people are clinging to natural things, perhaps in an attempt to save themselves from the force. Furthermore, the fact that the people are using the house and fire as comfort from the wind could convey the idea that the world is being brought together under the power of the storm.

Ted Hughes was married to the American poet Sylvia Plath, Sylvia “gassed herself in her kitchen following his affair with another woman..” [1]. Hughes confessed that “Plath’s death “was complicated and inevitable, she had been on that track most of her life.”[2]. That being said, ‘The Wind’ has been described as an extended metaphor about Hughes’ relationship with his wife [3] if she was on that track most of her life, then the weakness of the people and the house could in fact represent her lack of emotional stability. In this sense, the recurrence of the colour “green” could represent envy or jealousy that may have been existent in their relationship. Moreover the fragility of the hills, the house and the windows could be a metaphor for how fragile their relationship was. This idea continues with the theme of nature, however, in this case it would refer more to human nature.

Ted Hughes’ ‘The Wind’ uses a lot of strong imagery and through its continuous personification of the wind being alive we become more disturbed by the nature of the storm in the poem. This poem appears on surface to be a description of the violence of the natural world and its relationship with humans. However if we look into its meaning in more depth, although we will never fully know this without verification from the poet himself, ‘The Wind’ could in fact be a metaphor for the relationship between Hughes and his late wife Plath. Like nature cannot be altered, human nature cannot be prevented.

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