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In the poem, “El Viento en La Isla,” Pablo Neruda develops the theme of internal struggle by using vocabulary and images of nature and love. This allows him to illustrate, rather than simply tell of, his own inner struggle: to stay with his lover, or to pursue his political career as a socialist. Throughout the poem, he also writes with rhetorical figures, such as metaphors and personification, to show the strong influence that the two choices have on him.
To develop the theme of internal struggle, Neruda uses short stanzas to have an effect of urgency and frankness. He does not have long or verbose sentences. Rather, he delivers his message in a clear and concise manner, but a manner that is still very powerful. The vocabulary in the poem at first glance seems ordinary and every day. For example, Pablo Neruda uses words related to nature such as “horse,” “sea,” “rain,” “wind,” “foam,” “shadow,” and “the lone night.” He also uses words related to the body such as “arms,” “mouth,” “front,” “bodies,” and “big eyes.” These words are not very elaborate or complex, but when looking closer, it becomes evident that these simple and basic words can still have very deep effects and evoke strong emotions. The vocabulary related to nature and the body make his themes more clear and concrete, as they represent and symbolize his two different options. The body represents his infatuation and relationship with his lover. This love is comfortable and normal. In contrast, nature represents his pull to working in politics, the unknown, discomfort, and being isolated from his lover. Overall, Neruda uses the vocabulary of nature and the body of a lover to create contrast between his two different options. This effect is very powerful, because the message of the internal struggle is much more understandable when the reader can imagine the world as the author sees it.
Neruda also uses many rhetorical figures in his poem to help develop the theme of internal struggle. First, he uses the wind as a symbol of political work, and this choice is very important and effective. He does not simply say that he feels pressured to work in the political world with the socialists. Rather, he uses the wind, and its connotations as unpredictable and strong, as a symbol of this. It is important because the connotations with wind add a lot to Neruda’s purpose in writing this poem. Another rhetorical figure he employs is metaphors, which are equally interesting and purposeful. When Neruda writes, “The wind is a horse,” he does not describe the wind as a horse, but it says it is a horse. This metaphor helps the reader understand Neruda’s pressure to work in politics, and emphasizes his internal struggle. Lastly, Neruda uses personification when he says “Let the wind … call me and seek me galloping in the shade.” The personifications of the wind highlights the internal struggle that pursues Neruda; it does not only exist, but “runs” and “calls” and “looks.” Neruda gives life and power to the wind. Finally, Neruda uses hyperbole when he says “[the] love that burns us.” When Neruda exaggerates the feeling of love, it shows his difficulty in leaving his lover, as the wind, representing the pull of his political work, drags him away from her.
At the end of the poem, Neruda uses imagery of the wind running and galloping and him and resting with his lover. It shows his final inner struggle, between work and love, and the two dragging him in different directions. The final paradoxical image attracts the attention of many readers world wide, because like in his other poems and pieces of writing, Neruda is able to write about something relatable and global: in this case, internal struggle. Many of us know the feeling of being drawn to different experiences and opportunities, yet not wanting to leave the comfortable and known, whether it be our job, our families, or our hometown. It is amazing that through his symbolism and rhetorical figures, Neruda is able to put these feelings into words in his poem. It is interesting that in the end, Neruda does not have an obvious or definitive solution, as much as the reader might expect his struggles to be resolved. Again, as in many of his poems, he represents the humanity and the imperfection in us all. Many times, the answer is unclear, like Neruda shows in this poem, but he does get us thinking about how to ultimately make these difficult decisions.
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