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‘Wind’ by Ted Hughes makes the reader feel the character’s fear using various literary techniques throughout his poem. The reader identifies with the thought of a house on the moors and a couple stuck inside because of the ferocious winds. By Hughes’ use of various techniques, he makes the poem easier for the reader to understand which allows the reader to sympathise with the main character and his companion.
The poem tells a story of a couple trapped inside a house for over a period of 24hrs, imprisoned by the terrifying weather that lives just outside their door. Furthermore, the setting seems very much alive by the poet’s use of figurative language throughout the duration of the text and this enables the reader to envision the landscape being afraid of the power of nature. On a deeper level, the poet makes us beg the question of if we are important and reiterates the importance of nature and the fear this enlists in every single human being. Hughes introduces ‘Wind’ with an abnormal metaphorical depiction of a house which has been floating on the sea for the duration of the night. Fear is very significant in the first line and it is a major part of this whole poem which the reader is yet to find out. The poet gives us an insight into the couples fear quickly when he says: “This house has been far out at sea all night” Due to the reader not yet knowing what this poem central meaning is, there are many thoughts crossing their mind. This is deliberate of Hughes because it makes you read on because our natural instinct is to think: what house? Is it actually on the water? Is it still there?. But, analysing this line further we can see that Hughes uses a very clever metaphor to compare the house to a boat which has been far out at sea for the duration of the night, battered by the natural elements. Both provide the reader with a sense of isolation from the outside world which again heightens the fear of the couple and the reader. It is easy to identify with this feeling because of the very powerful metaphor and the use of the words ‘sea’ and ‘at night’ which makes us think of how the elements are torturing us and simply dominating both the house and the couple.
The first line becomes even clearer when you read on and find that for this couple, it is only going to become worse and that the bigger picture outside of the poem, life, is very much the same. As we come to the midpoint of the poem most people would think that it would now be safe to venture outside because it is now noon and light outside, but the couple soon find out that this is not the case and the danger of the surroundings awaiting their accompany. In this stanza, the poet uses the pronoun ‘I’ and ‘my’ which means it is personal to him and this makes the reader think further. The harsh use of words used in this line is shown when he says: “Through the brunt wind that dented the balls of my eyes” Obviously, his eyes are not being physically dented since that would be impossible but the hyperbole used allows us to imagine what it would feel like to have the soft jelly-like material squished by a severe force. The use of the word ‘brunt’ which is used to describe the sharp pain of the wind is very plosive when used with ‘balls’ because of the alliteration of the ‘b’. It is comparing the wind to a knife which is stabbing the person’s eye quite easily as if it was just something else in its path. This shows that in the eyes of the wind (a natural element) we are just an object similar to something sitting outside, they don’t care about humans because we are trivial to them. This causes distress in the readers’ mind because it firstly allows them to feel the literal meaning of the metaphor, that the eyes are being squished, but secondly, it makes them fearful of the environment and the power it holds which we learn more about in the following lines.
The mood changes slightly in the 4th stanza and the environment become even more threatening and frightening. With heavy use of personification Hughes introduces an even more fearful environment, which at this point seems impossible. The impact of the weather is made known when he says: ‘The fields quivering, the skyline a grimace” We are told that the couple is not the only people to be internally damaged by this wind. As wind is naturally made we would assume that the fields and sky e.t.c (also naturally made) were completely safe. The fields and sky were surely invisible, allowing the wind to briefly pass them to destruct something else. But ‘quivering’ and ‘grimacing’ are simply telling us that this is definitely not the case. Evidently, ‘fields quivering’ creates an image of grass and wheat severely shaking. But it can also be associated with shivering which the reader would do in a time of anxiety or terror. Furthermore, a picture of the skyline grimacing is less easily depicted because it can’t just be the shape of the sky, that wouldn’t make sense. This makes us think that even the horizons are showing trepidation similar to the humans and therefore the natural elements are simply more important than we will ever be. Finally, it could work on a deeper level and make the reader ask themselves – what if? – i.e. the world was engulfed in flames or just disappeared, would the natural element even protect us slightly or just give up.
The uncertainty and fear created are furthermore explored as we reach the end of the poem. By the end of the poem, using numerous techniques, Hughes has enabled us to envision the distress and the feelings of the human inhabitants. By his use of personification we begin to think the surroundings are ‘alive’, but furthermore, we think that they are more alive than the human inhabitants. Fear is easily recognisable in every object, dead or alive, and is wailing for the readers’ compassion and recognition. This is most prevalent when Hughes outlines the remnants of the hillside which has existed for many years when he says: “Hearing the stones cry, out under the horizons” The last stanza is notably the only stanza where each line completes a thought. Since enjambment is not used here, it signifies the poet surrendering to the storm. There is nowhere for him or the rest of the world to hide which means they have to sit, bored, frightened and isolated, awaiting the storm to hopefully pass although the reader is unaware if it ever will. In the last line, it informs us that the ‘stones cry’ which is obviously impossible and use of personification. But it shows us that the poet can clearly hear the cry from far away and into the late night or early morning when he uses ‘horizons’. Evidently, he is only aware of the storm and the sounds made almost like the stones are sobbing for help because they have given up. The use of the ‘h’ sound reminds the reader of the wind howling and the ghostly noise made which also has connotations to scared whining noises of people who are in fear of the unknown. Although the couple is sitting there helplessly, the stones seem to envy them and the protection they have, although minimal. Finally, the ongoing onomatopoeia use of language reminds the reader of the poems central meaning – man’s insignificance in the face of natural elements.
In conclusion, by the end of the poem, Hughes has made us aware of the feelings that are being portrayed throughout the poem. He uses numerous literary techniques to expand on the central message of the poem. One of the main feelings depicted in the poem is fear and we perceive this because of the techniques shown. The couples fear is made known to the reader and it leaves an unpleasant picture in everyone’s mind of the fearful couple in need of help to survive.
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