12/16/2011

Change

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That a change in self can be brought on by a single external


influence has been a major message that can be explored through


several of the texts studied thus far. The vivacious musician of


Harwoods Prize Giving, the ex-lover of In the Park by the same


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author, the clothes line of Roberts Sky High and the death of a


loved one in Audens Funeral Blues are all protagonists in the


changing self (or the realisation of a previous change) of each


texts main persona.


Harwoods Prize Giving and In the Park both explore the changing


in self of the principle subject of the poem when confronted by


another person. In the case of Prize Giving, an arrogant professor


is met with mockery by a younger, exuberant woman, at a school


presentation night.


Harwoods use of implicit characterisation gives the reader a


manifestation of the arrogant nature of the professor; arrogance


which is to be the key for his eventual downfall. The poets


inclusion of phrases such as grace their humble platform


and rudely declined show the condescending nature of the professor


successfully, without the need to include the use of an explicit


statement. After the reader is given an insight into the professors


character, we are introduced in the fourth stanza to the persona that


will be the changing influence on the professor. Harwoods


descriptive imagery in the lines underneath a light (no accident /


of seating he felt sure), with titian hair / one girl sat grinning at


him identifies the brazen, and alluring, nature of the young woman.


The professor becomes congested with lust, and, as is his arrogant


disposition, shortly believes that she may possibly lust after him.


This luxuria hits a crescendo when he shakes the young womans


hand, and we encounter the hyperbole felt its voltage fling his


hold / from his calm age and power. It is through the power of her


music that then stimulates Eisenbart to realise how foolish his short


infatuation with this girl had been. The oxymoron sage fool is


incorporated articulately by Harwood to outline this fact. That a


change in self has occurred in the professor is also evident in the


phrase peered into a trophy which suspended / his image upside down


which is equivocal in its literal and figurative nature.


Similarly in In the Park, it is a person who features in the


changing self of the persona, but this time an ex-lover is used to


outline the consequences of a previous change. The atmosphere before


this character is introduced, set from an authorial view, outlines


the personas current state of affairs. She is a single mother (not


stated but presumed) with three young children who have played a


major part in the downgrading of the personas life. The downgrading


role of the children is represented in the their descriptions of the


first stanza. Use of the onomatopoetic phrase whine and bicker and


descriptive phrases tug her skirt and aimless patterns in the


dirt give such representation to this role.


The introduction of the ex-lover in stanza two reveals how much the


womans life has changed since they last met. From the bleakness of


the first stanza, we enter a new stage filled with the interdispersal


of direct speech between the two characters. The woman senses the


thoughts of the man, that he is lucky his life hasnt turned out like


hers (but for the grace of God…). To counter this she talks up


her current situation, the children no longer whine and bicker


but chatter and thrive. After the ex-lover leaves, the admittance


of the mother in the metaphor They have eaten me alive shows that


through the confrontation of her past (in the form of the man) the


woman grasps a greater conception of the dire changes caused by the


birth of her children.


In Sky High by Hannah Roberts, it is not another person which


outlines a change in self of the persona, but an object (a


clothesline) which triggers a memory from the personas youth.


Personification of the clothesline, and its relation to the authors


own change in self since her youth, is one technique incorporated by


Roberts. When describing herself and the clothesline in the first two


paragraphs, we are given the phrases silver skeletal arms


and smooth, sweat damp hands. Comparing this to age-warped


washing line and hands, beginning to accumulate…wrinkles one can


see the dramatic realisation of the changed persona.


Another representation of the changing influence of the clothesline


is the descriptions of the hanging clothes. Where as in her youth


the clothesline was festooned with socks and knickers and shirts


like coloured flags in a secret code, Roberts now write(s) my own


semaphore secrets in colourful t-shirts and mismatched sock. This


suggests that as a child, the author thought that the clothes were


hung out in secret code. Now as an adult she realises the


ordinariness of the practice. The semaphore secrets that she writes


as an adult expose to the reader the question if these are messages


of unhappiness.


The death of a loved one in Funeral Blues is the protagonist for


the change in self of the main subject. Contextually, the poem


features a speaker mourning the loss of the person who was closest to


him in his life. By looking at the descriptive language and in


particular the metaphors used by the author, one can see the drastic


change in self that this loss has caused.


Each stanza in itself can be seen as the stages through which the


persona goes through, caused by the changing influence. The first


stanza brings forth the idea of silence before and during the


funeral. Audens imagery and simple diction in the phrases Stop all


the clocks and Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone give


a clear insight into the current mindset of the persona. He wishes no


sound of life to be heard, except for the muffled drum of the


funeral procession. The second stanza features many descriptive


images representing that all should mourn the loss and express the


same grief that the persona has felt from this change in self. The


author exclaims that aeroplanes are to scribble on the sky the


message He Is Dead. The alliteration of the letter s and the


capitalisation of the last three words in this line both give a


powerful meaning to the image. The third stage the persona undertakes


is a recollection of how much this loved one meant to him. Auden


illustrates this through the use of several metaphors exemplifying


that the deceased was evident in all aspects of his life(He was my


working week, my Sunday rest). The fourth stanza and the last stage


of the slowly depreciating mood of the persona. Due to the changing


influence of the death, the speaker now expresses his feeling that


life means nothing and should not proceed. The earlier request for


silence is now substantiated with a request for darkness and the


thoughts of the speaker are embodied in more powerful images (The


stars are not wanted now; put out every one). One then comes to the


last line of the poem and is hit with the simple but compelling


statement, For nothing now can ever come to any good. The change in


self is clearly defined in this last line, that the single influence


of the death of a loved one has forced the persona into devastation.


From these four texts one can see the impact that a single changing


influence has imposed in the changing self of each persona. In In


the Park and Funeral Blues we see that a changing influence has


caused a severe downgrading in the way that the personas see


themselves. In Prize Giving, an arrogant professor realised that he


too was capable of acting as a sage fool, and in Roberts Sky High


the clothesline brought forward the notion that change has limited


her of the freedom she had as a youth. (Of course, all changing


influences do not have such dire consequences as these.)





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