A musical interpretation of ‘The Help’

When looking online for resources on the novel I stumbled upon this video. This is a song someone has made telling the story of the faeces-filled pie that Minny gave to Hilly. I found it rather amusing.

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Songs to Conjure Images 4

Once I get to five of these I think I’m officially allowed to call it a series!! If you haven’t read one of these I relate songs very easily to literature, I’ll be reading something and think, “Ooh that’s reflected in this song really well!” and so here are some more videos of songs for you to watch and enjoy.

Racism and Defying the Norm

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This seems far fetched, but in my personal opinion ‘Defying Gravity’ is the anthem for being yourself. In ‘The Help’ Skeeter is a strong independent white woman who chooses to go against her friends and do what she knows is right. To me this rings true with Elphaba, the protagonist in ‘Wicked’. She is a character who was born green and was thus bullied and thought of as wicked, when all she wanted to do was stand up for animal rights and stand against the Wizard, a character who is easily manipulated by the evil Madame Morrible into ruling the nation of Oz. In ‘Defying Gravity’ Glinda and Elphaba say goodbye, as Glinda chooses to stay with the Wizard to protect the people and Elphaba flies off in rebellion. As we can see in the video Glinda is dragged away by guards and if Skeeter had been caught trying to integrate she would most likely be imprisoned too!

Enjoy the song, it’s one of my favourites!! (People in the UK by the way, Wicked is on tour at the moment and it is brilliant, well worth the money – I recommend it whole heartedly!!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QawAJRxdgSg

Life is for the living

In ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ Lord Henry persuades Dorian that life is worth living when you are young, and that youth is important. Whenever I read this I think of Fiyero from Wicked, a carefree layabout who only wants to live his life while he is young and do what he pleases. Fiyero seems almost corrupt at the beginning of the show, as he seems only to do what he wants. He reminds me slightly of Dorian when he grows more influenced by Lord Henry and lives his life in pursuit of pleasure alone. This song is Fiyero’s principle song, ‘Dancing Through Life’.

 

Thanks for reading,

Jack

The Preface all the way to Chapter 2!

So here are some notes on ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ from the Preface through to Chapter 2! Hope these help if you’re studying ‘DG’ too!

There will be references to the WHOLE of the book so if you haven’t finished the book and don’t want the ending spoiled then read no further!!

Preface:

  • The preface is basically a retaliation to the critics of the book, with Wilde’s observations on art and the meanings of art.
  • “To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim” – This shows immediately that this book was not meant to be about Wilde. Many people suggested that the book was near autobiographical.
  • “Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming” – Thus those who claim the book had latent homosexual messages are themselves the ones thinking the ‘corrupt’ thoughts, as they are the ones who noticed the homosexual messages that were ‘not meant to be there’
  • Wilde speaks of the ‘dislike of Realism’ which he suggests is like “the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.” Caliban is an ugly and ignorant character from ‘The Tempest’, and thus Caliban would be upset to see how he really looks, just how the people of the 19th century would be upset to see how they really act.
  • Wilde also speaks of the ‘dislike of Romanticism’ which he suggests is like “the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.” This suggests that people disliked Romanticism as they thought it was too much like fantasy, and couldn’t see anything of real life in it, however this was obviously the point of Romantic works.
  • “No artist desires to prove anything” – thus Wilde never intended to offend or insult anyone by the themes of the book that were shocking at the time.
  • “All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.” – Again Wilde shows how the homosexual themes were laid very deep under ‘symbol’ and thus if the critics dug that far down then it’s their own fault if they disliked what they read. The findings of the critics reflects the mind of the the readers not the mind of Wilde, as THEY interpreted it that way, he didn’t present it openly.
  • “All art is quite useless” – art is there to be admired only, no deeper meaning is necessary, reflecting the ideas of the aesthetic movement of the time.

Chapter 1:

  • This chapter opens with artistic artisan imagery, especially of nature: “rich odour of roses”, “light summer wind”, “heavy scent of the lilac”, “more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.” Gives idea of Eden, and thus later on Lord Henry tempts the innocent Dorian out of this heavenly place, and this reflects the fall of man, the first sin, and the tempting snake. Talk of nature seems ironic in a place that is so full of art.
  • “The dim roar of London was like the bourdon note of a distant organ.” gives an industrial feel to London, the word “organ” especially giving the idea of machinery.
  • “Basil Hallward, whose sudden disappearance some years ago caused, at the time, such public excitement and gave rise to so many strange conjectures.” This former scandal lends itself almost perfectly to the ending where Basil gets murdered. It is merely assumed that he has disappeared again, just like the last time.
  • “a smile of pleasure passed across his face” – is this a smile of pleasure because of his masterpiece or due to Dorian himself?
  • “You must certainly send it next year to the Grosvenor. The Academy is too large and too vulgar.” immediately shows his judging and opinionated nature
  • “No, I won’t send it anywhere.” The painting was painted for himself alone, just like he wants Dorian for himself alone.
  • “thin blue wreaths of smoke that curled up in such fanciful whorls from his heavy, opium-tainted cigarette.” this sentence gives a sense of heaviness and effort to everything.
  • “I have put too much of myself into it.” – Does this phrase also relate to the novel itself? Has Wilde put too much of his own sexuality in the themes of the book? Is the book almost autobiographical in nature? The painting could condemn Basil like the book eventually condemns Wilde.
  • “we shall all suffer for what the gods have given us, suffer terribly.” – Our lives are in the hands of ‘the gods’, Wilde is almost saying that if he is homosexual then it is God’s fault, not his.
  • “When I like people immensely, I never tell their names to any one. It is like surrendering a part of them.” This is similar to Sybil later on, who only ever refers to Dorian as “Prince Charming”
  • “the one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties.” Lord Henry is a very witty and cynical person
  • “I believe that you are really a very good husband, but that you are thoroughly ashamed of your own virtues. You are an extraordinary fellow. You never say a moral thing, and you never do a wrong thing. Your cynicism is simply a pose.” Basil always thinks the best of everyone, Lord Henry is the immoral tempter in the book, yet Basil has nothing bad to say about him.
  • “every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself. The reason I will not exhibit this picture is that I am afraid that I have shown in it the secret of my own soul.” This could reflect Wilde’s opinions being reflected in the book. The attitude of this passage seems to contradict the preface directly, suggesting that art reveals the artist.
  • “With an evening coat and a white tie, as you told me once, anybody, even a stock-broker, can gain a reputation for being civilized. Well, after I had been in the room about ten minutes, talking to huge overdressed dowagers and tedious academicians” – Basil doesn’t seem to like the times he’s living in, making such comments on society.
  • “Yes; she is a peacock in everything but beauty,” appears rude, but Basil thinks his cynicism is a pose
  • “oh, yes, plays the piano–or is it the violin, dear Mr. Gray?” Dorian presented as educated
  • “I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their good intellects.” Seems very shallow in his opinions of people,
  • “My elder brother won’t die, and my younger brothers seem never to do anything else.” His speech is almost always orientated with the aim to shock.
  • ‘ “Tell me more about Mr. Dorian Gray. How often do you see him?” “Every day. I couldn’t be happy if I didn’t see him every day. He is absolutely necessary to me.” ‘ Basil seems obsessed and besotted with Dorian.

Chapter 2

  • “As they entered they saw Dorian Gray. He was seated at the piano, with his back to them, turning over the pages of a volume of Schumann’s “Forest Scenes.” “You must lend me these, Basil,” he cried. “I want to learn them. They are perfectly charming.” “, the fact that Dorian has his back to them causes suspense. The inclusion of the “Forest Scenes” gives a sense of nature and innocence.
  • ” “That entirely depends on how you sit to-day, Dorian.” “Oh, I am tired of sitting, and I don’t want a life-sized portrait of myself,” answered the lad, swinging round on the music-stool in a wilful, petulant manner.” Basil seems like a parent chiding Dorian, and Dorian seems like a sulky child throwing a tantrum.
  • When Dorian sees Lord Henry a “faint blush coloured his cheeks”, giving Dorian a feminine character and showing that he is already slightly attracted to Lord Henry
  • “I promised to go to a club in Whitechapel with her last Tuesday, and I really forgot all about it.” shows that Dorian is essentially good but is weak minded and willed and this will be weak willed.
  • ” “That is very horrid to her, and not very nice to me,” answered Dorian, laughing.” Dorian is shocked but amused by Lord Henry’s quips about Lady Agatha
  • Dorian described like a young Adonis/Narcissus and this shows why he is trusted by many and why he gets away with things: “Yes, he was certainly wonderfully handsome, with his finely curved scarlet lips, his frank blue eyes, his crisp gold hair. There was something in his face that made one trust him at once. All the candour of youth was there, as well as all youth’s passionate purity.”
  • ” “Would you think it awfully rude of me if I asked you to go away?” Lord Henry smiled and looked at Dorian Gray. “Am I to go, Mr. Gray?” he asked. “Oh, please don’t, Lord Henry. I see that Basil is in one of his sulky moods, and I can’t bear him when he sulks. Besides, I want you to tell me why I should not go in for philanthropy.” ” Basil is very protective of Dorian, and Lord Henry knows that he can use Dorian to manipulate Basil. Dorian is already fascinated by Lord Henry.
  • “If Dorian wishes it, of course you must stay. Dorian’s whims are laws to everybody, except himself.” Basil is battling Lord Henry for Dorian’s affection.
  • “He has a very bad influence over all his friends, with the single exception of myself.” Warning Dorian Gray subtly about the influences of Henry, and then as if on cue Henry begins influencing Dorian with a long speech, “Because to influence a person is to give him one’s own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed.”
  • “People are afraid of themselves, nowadays.” reflects how people are afraid to be themselves, especially if they’re homosexual.
  • Basil is almost always referred to as “the painter” in the rest of this chapter as that is now all he is, Dorian’s affections have been taken by Lord Henry.
  • In that day many people would be Christian, yet Lord Henry talks about the powers of the “brain” – showing his scientific and anti-religious side.
  • “Words! Mere words! How terrible they were! How clear, and vivid, and cruel! One could not escape from them. And yet what a subtle magic there was in them!” This shows how much of an influence Lord Henry has had over Dorian, as his “mere words” have gotten him into a confused stupor, contemplating life and death and all in between.
  • “Why had it been left for a stranger to reveal him to himself? He had known Basil Hallward for months, but the friendship between them had never altered him.” Lord Henry has now shown Dorian that he is homosexual. Dorian wonders why he’s attracted to Lord Henry but not Basil.
  • Henry starts to show Dorian that beauty and youth are the only things worth having, saying it would be “unbecoming” to get sunburnt, and that “youth is the one thing worth having.” He continues to talk to Dorian, persuading him that he needs to live while he has youth: “But what the gods give they quickly take away. You have only a few years in which to live really, perfectly, and fully. When your youth goes, your beauty will go with it,”
  • Lord Henry exaggerates the effects of aging to show Dorian how youth is the most vital thing: “Our limbs fail, our senses rot. We degenerate into hideous puppets, haunted by the memory of the passions of which we were too much afraid, and the exquisite temptations that we had not the courage to yield to. Youth! Youth! There is absolutely nothing in the world but youth!”
  • “A furry bee came and buzzed round it for a moment. Then it began to scramble all over the oval stellated globe of the tiny blossoms.” Very childish language ‘furry bee’ to represent the youthful and innocent nature of Dorian. There are sexual overtones however as the bee is pollinating.
  • When Dorian sees the picture he has a shocking realisation: “Yes, there would be a day when his face would be wrinkled and wizen, his eyes dim and colourless, the grace of his figure broken and deformed. The scarlet would pass away from his lips and the gold steal from his hair. The life that was to make his soul would mar his body. He would become dreadful, hideous, and uncouth.” This description is very like Henry’s over-dramatic interpretation of what aging does, showing how much Dorian has been influenced.
  • Dorian still seems childish: “a mist of tears” and Basil is concerned, ” “Don’t you like it?” cried Hallward at last, stung a little by the lad’s silence,”
  • Dorian expresses how the Dorian in the painting will never be older “than this particular day of June”, this day could have been the summer solstice, a day of magic, which could explain the supernatural element. He states that he “would give everything” for the painting to grow old and himself to stay young forever. He then states “I would give my soul” which seals the deal and is reminiscent of Faustus.
  • Dorian seems to become bitter and jealous of the painting and starts to think that Basil only likes him for his art, “I am less to you than your ivory Hermes or your silver Faun. You will like them always. How long will you like me? Till I have my first wrinkle, I suppose.” Art is immortal and man is not, and Dorian realises this. He grows rather over-dramatic, almost like a hormonal teenager when he states “When I find that I am growing old, I shall kill myself.”
  • Basil blames Henry, ” “This is your doing, Harry,” said the painter bitterly.” and Henry defends himself. Basil has already resigned himself to the fact that Dorian has changed.
  • Basil goes to stab the painting, despite the fact that it’s his masterpiece – this shows how much he loves Dorian. However Dorian realises that there’s life in the painting and stops him, ” “Don’t, Basil, don’t!” he cried. “It would be murder!” “. Dorian is in love with the painting as he is now vain and loves himself.
  • Dorian pours out the tea, a woman’s role in that day and age, showing his feminine nature
  • We can see that Lord Henry is not a loyal person when he discusses cancelling his meal with his old friend, “I have promised to dine at White’s, but it is only with an old friend,”
  • Basil calls the painting the real Dorian, as the painting was painted before Dorian was negatively influenced by Lord Henry. Basil bites his lip, something he does constantly in this chapter as he is worried that Dorian is being stolen from him by Lord Henry. Basil then explains that Dorian and the painting are alike in “appearance” – suggesting that Dorian’s soul has been tainted by Lord Henry’s influence.
  • Basil begs Dorian not to go as he is besotted with him and cannot bear the idea of losing him: “He won’t like you the better for keeping your promises. He always breaks his own. I beg you not to go.” Lord Henry looks on “with an amused smile” as he has caused this argument.
  • When Dorian and Lord Henry leave together a “look of pain” came into Basil’s face, as he has been rejected and has lost Dorian.

This was a long blog post but I hope you got something out of it! I know I did!!

Thanks for reading,

Jack

The Help and 1960’s Feminism

This is awesome.

Faith Baker

Just an article that I found whilst reading through different interpretations on ‘The Help’. It looks at the novel from a very interesting position! I found the article here: http://womenshistory.about.com/od/feminismandpopculture/a/The-Help-and-Feminism.htm

The Help is set in Mississippi during the early 1960s, when the groundswell of feminism’s “second wave” was still building. Kathryn Stockett’s novel revolves around events in 1962-1963, before thewomen’s liberation movement, before Betty Friedan and other feminist leaders founded the National Organization for Women, before the media invented the myth of bra-burning. Although The Help is an imperfect depiction of the 1960s and the author stifles the budding feminism of some of her characters, the novel does touch on many issues that were relevant to 1960s feminism. Here’s a look at some of those feminist issues that are worth exploring after you finish reading The Help.

  • Skeeter’s Rebelliousness/Independence
    A hint of feminism in 

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What help does ‘The Help’ film give us to help us understand ‘The Help’ novel?

It is important to note that the 2011 film version of “The Help” is but an interpretation of the novel. It is not ‘the film of the book’, it is ‘a film interpretation of the book’. Films can use a multitude of different devices to present the story that a novel can’t, such as voiceovers, camera angles and the physical look of the settings and characters in full (in the book we obviously get description, but not the same form of atmosphere). 

I felt the contrast between the Bridge Club members and the Help were very well defined in the film. By way of appearance the Help wore very basic uniforms in dull pastel colours and had their hair in buns, whereas the Bridge Club members had very exuberant brightly coloured (almost neon) outfits, with ridiculously over-sized hair. Skeeter however wears much more basic clothing, and her hair is not as well kept. This almost immediately displays that she does not share the same bigoted attitudes as the other members, such as Hilly. When you read the book you do not ‘hear’ the accents of the snobbish Bridge Club, however the use of punctuation and slang in the book means you read the dialogue of the Help in their ‘accent’. Thus in the film we notice the slow southern drawl of the Bridge Club more, which is almost sweet and sickly, contrasting harshly with the comments that they make. There is also a contrast in their clothes as they are so fashionable and modern, yet their views are archaic.

The settings were also physically viewed in the film which also helped contrast between the black and white members of society. We can see that the posh Bridge Club members had large country houses (described in the book too, but having a physical appearance helps the contrast) whereas the Help lived either in large cramped apartment blocks (which only had a sweeping shot, but showed the poor conditions) or small ramshackle buildings. Aibileen’s house is very dark with dull colours, and both the exterior and interior look worn down. The kitchen is a heavily shown place to contrast. Aibileen’s kitchen was very small and could hardly fit a few people in, whereas Miss Leefolt’s kitchen was almost too big considering her small family. Gadgets were shown in the houses, such as mixers and hoovers; this isn’t heavily shown in the book, it was only briefly mentioned. The Help were originally employed to perform labour intensive tasks, like brushing floors etc, now there’s hoovers and other gadgets there are no longer many labour intensive jobs. This shows how the Help were really only there as glorified babysitters, as their only major task was looking after the children.

There are only a few flaws in the film. The film is a very humourous interpretation of the novel, and thus that reduces the serious impact of the novel, as it seems only a ‘feel good’ film. Also the atmosphere of the film is cheery, the colours are sometimes brighter than they should be (e.g. the bus for the Help is a very bright yellow and is too clean, it would be more run down). Also the weather (something you don’t really consider when reading the book) is very sunny and bright, and makes some of the film seem too cheery.

 

Thanks for reading,

Jack

Wilde

Oscar Wilde was a playwright, poet and novelist born in 1854 in Dublin. He was born Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wilde to a prosperous mother and father. His father was a great doctor, who spent most of his time in London and was thus absent for some of Wilde’s early years and his mother was a poet and Irish Nationalist. Wilde had the best education possible and was obviously very bright. He was an impressive linguist, he was taught French and German and also had a working knowledge of Italian and Ancient Greek. He attended Trinity College in Dublin and graduated in 1874.

Wilde received a scholarship so that he could study further at Magdalen College in Oxford. At Oxford Wilde made his first attempts at creative writing. In 1878 (the year of his graduation) his poem “Ravenna” won a prize for the best English poem composed by an Oxford undergraduate.

After graduating from Oxford, Wilde moved to London to live with his friend, Frank Miles, a popular portraitist among London’s high society. He continued to focus on writing poetry, publishing his first collection, “Poems”, in 1881. The book established Wilde as an up-and-coming writer. In 1882 he embarked on a tour of America, lecturing on a variety of subjects from “The English Renaissance” to “Decorative Art.” He delivered 140 lectures in only 9 months.

Through his lectures and his early poetry Wilde established himself as a leading member of the aesthetic movement (I have another blog explaining the concepts behind the aesthetic movement). In 1884 Wilde married Constance Lloyd and continued to have two children. He wrote beautiful fairy stories for his children and in 1888 published a collection of them, “The Happy Prince and Other Tales”. In 1891 he published his only novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. I will be writing much more about this novel in the coming weeks as this is the novel I’m studying for AS Level. The book was received with negative criticism which surprised Wilde, so he wrote a preface and extra chapters to retaliate, hoping that the new additions would improve people’s opinions of the book.

Wilde wrote a variety of plays, such as “A Woman of No Importance” published in 1893, “ An Ideal Husband” published in 1895, and his most famous play: “The Importance of Being Earnest” which was published in 1895. Around this time Wilde was enjoying a homosexual affair with Lord Alfred Douglas. Lord Douglas’ father then publicly accused Wilde of sodomy (non-procreative sex) and Wilde was arrested on the grounds of “gross indecency” in 1895. He was kept in Reading prison for two years.

After he was released he moved to France and wrote a poem about his time in prison “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” in 1898. In late 1900 Wilde developed meningitis and on the 29th of November called for a priest and was baptised into the Catholic Church. On the 30th of November he died, and his last words (one of my favourite quotes) were:

“My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or other of us has got to go.”

Thanks for reading,

Jack

Across the sea to Byzantium

‘Sailing to Byzantium’ is a poem written by W.B.Yeats comparing the lifetimes of both art and nature, and contrasting the two parallel to youth and old age. Youth is a very creative time, and as you grow older you learn the truths of nature, you become “tattered” “aged” “old men”. Yeats dismisses Ireland, nature and the living world as they offer no consolation for “old men” like him. He sails to the mythical city of Byzantium in his mind, almost worshipping the idea of immortal art in comparison to mortal nature and mortal men. He realises that art has a life beyond the limits of nature, and thus consigns himself to visiting his creative imagination.

The roman numerals to number the stanzas give a sense of formality, that reflects the ancient civilization of Byzantium, which seems like a formal place, with “Lords and Ladies”. The rhyme scheme starts off formally but ends up with half rhymes dispersed to show the fall of Ireland, how at the time of writing Ireland had fallen apart. The rhyming couplet at the end of stanzas suggest completion after the suspense offered by alternate rhymes. The enjambment emphasises the idea that this is all taking place in Yeats’ imagination.

The poem is like an impassionate plea for some form of life through art, saying goodbye to Ireland, the city he visits representing the best of a high ancient culture and classical civilisation. Yeats likes to link his poetry to the classical world through small references or even more blatant references like rewriting myths (‘Leda and the Swan’). Byzantium also represents a revered ideal, a place where art is treasured and lasts. The fact that his poetry may last almost makes up for the fact that his mortal self must die.

The first stanza shows the need for a new song/person in Ireland.The “young” are distracted by sensual music, creative new ideas, and thus Ireland “is no country for old men” as they have no voice. This shows Yeats’ pessimistic look to the future. The phrase “old men” shows the human condition and the truth of age, time passes. A cascade of images to represent nature take over Yeats thoughts, showing nature’s true beauty, as if he is arguing in his mind over whether mortal nature or immortal art is better. The alliteration and punctuation, “fish, flesh and fowl’ force the reader to swiftly pass from one snapshot to another. The reference to summer gives the idea of nature’s energy and abundance, this coupled with the “sensual music” shows the vivid physical world that Yeats desperately wants to reject.

In stanza 2 Yeats uses the image of a scarecrow to describe old men, “tattered” and “paltry”. Yeats’ opinion seems to be that old age is unnecessary. The phrase “Soul clap its hands and sing” shows the celebration that life can be, to add to the pastoral natural images in the first stanza. At the end of this stanza he has left Ireland and politics behind completely as he has “sailed the seas”. 

In stanza 3 Yeats craves spiritual release, almost giving a prayer-like plea to go from the ephemeral to the immortal, from nature to art. He asks for the sages to “come from the holy fire” and be the “singing masters” of his soul. Singing and songs are important in this poem. In the first stanza Yeats refers to the song of the dying generation, and in the second he refers to the singing soul. These songs give the idea of regality and tradition. The idea of the soul and heart being “fastened to a dying animal” reflects the idea of the spiritual attached to the physical, the “animal” reflecting the true nature of the human body, which is animalistic in design, however the thing that makes us human is the spiritual aspect of us, our soul. Yeats accepts the idea of death, “gather me into the artifice of eternity”, he has realised that the body isn’t important.

In the final stanza Yeats admits he will not return to the mortal world after death “I shall never take my bodily form from any natural thing” and looks around the richness and wealth of eternity. He almost seems to want to live in nature but he chooses to live through his art, as the lure is too strong. Gold is frequently mentioned throughout this stanza, a metal that is cold, hard, and doesn’t tarnish or change naturally. The mention of “Lords and Ladies” seems odd, as Yeats is striving to get to this place, whereas Ireland had been striving for centuries to get rid of the class system that supported those ranks, this truly shows how Yeats wants to get away from Ireland by completely defying what they fought for.

There is a contrast between the worlds of art and nature, and a constant sense of opposites. Great art lasts forever, whereas nature physically can’t. Nature is represented in two ways, negatively as a “dying animal” and positively as vivid “salmon-falls” showing both the rewards and punishments of living. Art is shown consistently as the opposite, an unchanging ideal, the city of Byzantium, a “monument of un-aging intellect”. Yeats also shows paradoxes, such as the “holy fire”, “holy” being synonymous with heaven and God, and “fire” having connotations with hell and the Devil. Yeats contrasts the opposites of old and young, that can’t share the same country; “no country for old men”. The old are presented as weak and feeble, “tattered”, “aged”, “paltry”, whereas the young are presented as energetic and vibrant, “sensual”.

There are also ambiguities in the poem. The “birds in the trees” represent the pastoral and natural mortal life and also the freedom that Yeats longs for. They could also represent stability, another thing Yeats desires, as they are up high in the trees. The line “no country for old men” is also ambiguous, as it could suggest that Yeats is nearing the end of his time and must soon die and leave life, or that there are young people taking all the attention and providing all the ideas. 

Thanks for reading,

Jack