How effectively does Gittings challenge the view that science is a force for good in, 'The Fox'? Essay
When reading this poem we can clearly see the difference between the way that Gittings portrays the fox and the way he describes Darwin and human presence on the island - How effectively does Gittings challenge the view that science is a force for good in, 'The Fox'? Essay introduction. The fox is portrayed as a beautiful, natural creature throughout the whole poem and Gittings talks as though he is awe of it, “Demurely as a pennant furled, Signal of peace and self won ease. ” The imagery set from this extract is very modest and beautiful, “pennant furled” being a flag rolled up in a curl. Flags mark territory as would the fox’s “brush”, but it is at ease.
It is almost as though the fox is sitting at ease and peacefully; knowing that it’s territory is marked. The reference to other animals such as, “Spear flight of a wedge of geese,” is still very harmonious, although metaphorically Gittings is portraying is the arrow shape and speed that the geese fly in, spear flight is a fairly noiseless speed. It is certainly not as disturbing to the island and its residents as Darwin and his crew, both with the noise that they make and their un-natural presence, as Gittings later remarks on.
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“Kin to nothing on this desolate coast. Here Gittings clearly shows that Darwin and his men should not be on that island or that they have no natural reason to be. There is a fair amount of reference to the noise that Darwin and his men’s arrival causes, “shout from the dull water echoes out. ” “Descending hiss.. hammer falls” These two extracts show just how disruptive and destructive Darwin’s arrival really is. Again the reference to Darwin and his people being un-natural is highlighted when Gittings refers to them as, “three legged to their two. ” No creature that nature or God creates has three legs, thus the un- natural imagery set.
This is in great contrast to the way that fox is described, “small cloud on a smooth hill,” this reference is very picturesque, the words are very picture painting for us and it does not require much thinking to conjure up this image in our minds. It sets a beautiful scene in our minds of the fox sittings at the top of the hill; again there is nothing un-natural about this. It is obvious that Gittings sees the death of the fox as a great tragedy, “The golden flanks are dead asleep forever,” and even though the fox is dead he is still in awe of its natural beauty.
The techniques that are linguistically used to describe the death of the fox are very effective at surfacing our emotions towards the event. “So dies the live fox. The living man… ” the opposition techniques used within this extract are very good. Firstly tragedy is showed by this beautiful fox being killed, but to put it’s life and death in one sentence is not only powerful use of language but also of transition of energies. Again when Gittings follows this up with, “the living man.. it is as though he is showing us that there are no consequences for Darwin’s actions and that he has adopted some sort of Godly power that legitimates his killings.
This ties in well with the casual way that Darwin kills the fox. It’s almost symbolic of the way that he is casually killing off religion to prove his own theories and methodology correct. “scooping,” up the dead body of the fox and, “dangling another link to show the fine mesh of his theory,” these powerful extracts help Darwin to kill off every single aspect of the fox.
It is done without care or consideration and is fairly humiliating. It certainly emphasizes the fact that Darwin doesn’t care that he has just taken a life, an has no intentions to treat the corpse with respect. The way that Darwin coughs in the poem, coughing being an everyday, normal thing, is symbolic of the fact that this really is ‘normal’ thing for him. When juxtaposed, I fell that the fox definitely comes out looking the most innocent. Throughout the poem there are various techniques used to highlight the fact that the fox is natural and beautiful, and if something is natural it is meant to be.
One such technique would be enjambment within the poem. It promotes a natural flow to it. In fact the only un-natural reference in the poem is that of Darwin. If Darwin is shown as a victim of anything it is that of science. This is also how science is highlighted as evil force in the poem, the contrasts between nature, the fox and it’s innocence and things that are supposed to be, compared to the un-natural references to Darwin and the evil acts that his scientifically driven theory cause.
In my opinion the “mushroom cloud” is the most effective device used. When Gittings writes, “the mushroom cloud begins to grow,” we can picture it in two ways, firstly literally as a cloud. When the weather takes a turn towards cloudier weather it is never good news. Secondly, we can take this extract for its metaphorical meaning. Mushroom clouds are most frequently associated with the atomic bomb, a man made thing capable of mass destruction.
The expansion of this cloud represents the expansion in science and even though the first atomic bomb was let off approximately 100 years after this poem was written, it shows that it had to originate from somewhere and still shows science to be a force for evil. The way that I interpret the above is that Gittings is trying to show that science led to the invention of the atomic bomb, the atomic bomb led to mass destruction. Science was also the driving force behind Darwin, he killed the fox to research a scientific theory that, if proved correct, would completely dismiss all religious creation stories.