The poem of TedHughes’ “The Jaguar” captures the various lives and lifestyles of animals insidewhat appears to be an animal park. The poem emphasizes on the jaguar’s roughand aggressive behaviour over a lifeless surrounding that confines the jaguar.
Manydevices of thought were used in this poem to depict the imagery of the harsh settingwhich takes place in an animal park filled with many unrecognized animals. Stuckwithin a cage, the jaguar characterized in the poem fearlessly fends for himselfand uses many devices of sound to portray the wrath of the jaguar and hisambition to escape. Hughes also emphasize some devices of sound and thoughtsuch as caesuras and enjambments to further enhance the feelings and thoughtsof the animals. With the many poetic devices used, Ted Hughes’ “The Jaguar”metaphorically uses animals and the nature of their habitat to relate to humanlife in the way of being suppressed mentally or physically in everyday lifewhich carries out as the major theme of the poem. The setting Ted Hughes described in thepoem came to the conclusion of an animal park and gave subtle hints to thatreasoning using devices of thought such as metaphor, simile, and imagery. TedHughes uses this setting to metaphorically represent the surroundings of peopleor human life and their daily roles in society. The first stanza givesinformation about a few animals and the mood they portray such as the secondand third line, “The parrots shriek as if they were on fire, or strut likecheap tarts to attract the stroller with the nut. These two lines give insighton the parrot’s mood, as simile was used to describe the feeling of the parrotby its scream and relate it to being on fire.
The thought continues by addingthe parrots desire to attract people, just like “tarts” or what it’s really definedas “prostitutes”. Just like the other animals used in the first few lines, suchas the apes, lions, tigers, the third stanza brings the idea of the animal parkin the second and third line, “At a cage where the crowd stands, stares, mesmerized,as a child at a dream”. This line brings the imagery of cages and a crowdstaring at a jaguar which can be easily related to an animal park.
Ted Hughesuses all these metaphors, similes and imagery to display the harsh possiblesetting of an animal park which can possibly be related to humans and the veryuncaring but caged lifestyles some people live. The devices of sound used in thepoem gave the jaguar a threatening aura, such as the last line of the thirdstanza connecting to the first line of the fourth stanza “At a jaguar hurryingenraged through prison darkness after the drills of his eyes on a short fiercefuse”. This line gave a few consonances such as the “d” in darkness and drills,but the more emphasized “f” and “s” sound in both fierce and fuse which gave aswift or rapid feeling that can be also reasoned to the shortness if the words.Its swift feeling gives it that edge of danger, and the representation of thejaguar’s movement. A sense of danger can also be seen in the fourth stanza,third line, “By the bang of blood in the brain deaf the ear” which emphasizeson the word “b” which all relate to words that give more violentcharacteristics such as blood and bang. The use of sounds in the poem give thesense of threat to the jaguar which emphasizes its suppression in its cage andthe desire to withdraw from the crowd and the cage. This can be a goodrepresentation of few humans who have the desire to escape their mental stateor life routines as a rebellious act.
The jaguar, who is known to be a hunter,knows its environment does not belong to cage, which can relate to humans thatknow they do not belong in certain environments and choose to rebel and TedHughes uses the devices of sound to express its anger and display the messageinterestingly. The use of enjambments and caesuraswere prominent in Ted Hughes “The Jaguar” as most can be seen from the firststanza to the last. Ted Hughes uses this technique to bring a more ironiceffect or the anticipation build. The lines “Fatigued with indolence, tiger andlion lie still as the sun, the boa-constrictor’s coil is a fossil” display the irony in the daily presence ofthe tigers, lions and snakes which are all known to be hunters, however all areanticipated at the last moment to realize the laziness and unwillingness oftheir duties. The earlier lines “Through prison darkness after the drills ofhis eyes on a short fierce fuse” also explains caesuras and is interestinglyended short with a pause in the middle of the line. This example cleverly playswith the word “short fuse” to also enhance the imagery of swiftness in thejaguar’s movement and emotions. These examples bring closer the idea of thejaguar’s anger and the animal’s laziness to portray idea of humans in society,such as their jobs and lifestyle. “The Jaguar” expresses the idea ofhumans and the suppression of their own thoughts and physical being in society,jobs, and lifestyle.
Ted Hughes’ uses many poetic devices that include elementsof thought and sound to portray the settings and emotions of the animals. Thenature and animal element is used by Ted Hughes who gives the great comparisonto humans and their lifestyle with the overall idea of suppression and being”caged”.