Sunday, September 1, 2019

Chinua Achebe vs. Margret Atwood Essay

Compare the ways that vultures are portrayed and used in the poems by Margaret Atwood and Chinua Achebe. By Jessica Tilbrook. Chinua Achebe and Margret Atwood grew up in two very different environments. They were born almost a decade apart, yet they both managed to construct two very meaningful poems about vultures. Achebe was born in Nigeria in 1930. In 1967 the region of Biafra broke away from Nigeria. Achebe became a devoted supporter of Biafra independence and served as ambassador for the people of the nation. But to get this point there was a 3 year war of independence ravage. Chinua Achebe witnesses some horrific scenes. He saw babies, children and adults starving to there death. He saw his own people from Biafra killing others from Nigeria. He saw how loving people have the capacity to be evil and vice versa according to Achebe’s version on the poem ‘vultures’. Chinua Achebe believed that any good work of art should have a purpose. Achebe’s vultures defiantly had a purpose, as it shows how even evil, vile creatures like vultures have the capacity to love. Throughout Achebe’s poem there is a negative feel. From the very start of the poem it is unpleasant and quite graphic in the description of the vultures. In the poem it occasionally refers to ‘love’ as one of the vultures ‘inclines affectionately. ‘ This suggests that even vile creatures can have the capacity to love. Chinua Achebe uses many techniques throughout his poem vultures. The structure of the poem has no rhyming scheme or lines of the same lengths. The lines are written short, probably on purpose as you can then appreciate the horror, by reading it slower, creating tension. Achebe’s poem isn’t really in Stanza’s it is more split into four sections; this is probably done to keep the flow of evil and ideas running through the poem. There is also a lack of punctuation throughout the poem, this could have been done on purpose to keep the poem flowing, like the sections. Chinua Achebe choose to right in past tense for the description of the vultures, as it’s easier to understand what vultures are like whereas the Belsen Commandant is described in the present tense. This might of been done to remind us that evil is all around us now, and everyone has the capacity to be evil. The word strange on its own, at the beginning of the second section makes us pause, and think about what’s actually going to be strange, which makes you think about the whole section. Throughout Achebe’s poem there is a lot of imagery a good example of this is ‘Belsen Commandant’ – a mass murderer and his children calling him Daddy, not father. This is probably done so you can visualise how the children have no idea of what there father has actually done, and they are treating him like normal. This is quite emotional to read, as you can imagine this really happening. Another example of Achebe’s imagery is the metaphors he uses to describe death and horror. In the first section it says ‘vulture perching high on broken bones of a dead tree’. This makes the atmosphere more intense, and builds up the tension from the very beginning. There is some alliteration in the poem, but there are not many references to sound. I think Achebe wants to concentrate on more visual images rather than sound effects to suggest his ideas. I liked Achebe’s version of the poem vultures. It had a very meaningful purpose, which is what Achebe wanted to achieve. He wanted to use vultures as a ‘vehicle’ to get people to understand that even the most loving of people have the capacity to be evil. I think he used vultures as a very successful vehicle at getting his point across. I also think that this poem is ambiguous on one hand, you could say that even the cruellest of creatures show even the tiniest amount of love, but on the other hand, that even the most loving creatures have potential to be even the slightest bit evil. The second poem called vultures was written my Margret Atwood. She was born in Ottawa, Ontario in 1939. She was a daughter of a forest entomologist, and spent part of her early years in the bush of North Quebec. Atwood is the joint honorary president of the rare bird club of birdlife international. The main message of this poem is how life comes of death. So basically the cycle of life, and even from the most horrific things in life, can bring something extraordinary out of it. Throughout Atwood’s poems there are references to death, such as ‘hung’ and ‘bones’. This does not give a good vibe to the poem. Atwood uses several metaphors throughout. ‘Then they’re hyenas, raucous around the kill, flapping their black umbrellas. ‘ This is two metaphors in one sentence. She describes the vultures as hyenas which is not only a good comparison but good use of imagery. Also Atwood says the vultures were flapping their black umbrellas this makes them out to seem huge evil animals. The structure of Atwood’s poem is done very well, as she occasionally puts odd words on a separate line to make you think about the poem in more depth. The poem is sort of in stanza’s but there isn’t maybe, which helps the poem keep flowing. All of the lines in the poem are roughly the same length, apart from the occasional odd word. I think it makes the poem easier to read, and get the rhyme flowing at the right pace. Margret Atwood uses a variety of meaningful and powerful words. For example ‘carnage’ ‘violate’ ‘gluttonous’ all these words have a negative impact on vultures. As they are explaining why and how they are vile creates. But some people might say that the way vultures act is completely natural. This is because it is natural for them to eat, which means killing other animals, to feed themselves and there family. Which shows this poem is also quite ambiguous. There aren’t many references to sound throughout Atwood’s version of Vultures. But she does say vultures snigger at funerals. And sniggering refers to sound. This also implies vultures are vile creature, as it is inappropriate to horribly giggle at a funeral. I think that Margret Atwood successfully used vultures as a good vehicle to show how life comes out of death, even in the most horrible circumstances. I thought both Chinua Achebe and Margret Atwood’s poems both had very different meanings, but both shows contrasts between humans and vultures. In my opinion Chinua Achebe’s version of vultures was the best used vehicle to get his point across. As he point his point across very well, and he achieved his purpose ‘that any good work of art should have a purpose. ‘ So I think Chinua Achebe’s poem just slightly had an edge over Margret Atwood’s because of Achebe’s aims for his poem.

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