Benevolence Tony Hoagland Analysis

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Benevolence is defined as meanings kind, compassionate, or caring. In Tony Hoagland’s, “Benevolence”, the speaker thinks longingly of a time where they are able to control their father’s drinking habit. Hoagland uses the duality of harm and affection in his poem with the topics of benevolence and abuse. The speaker seems to have mixed feelings about it, as in knowing alcoholism is a bad habit, but knowing or feeling like their father always had good intentions. There is also a gloomy and depressing undertone when you analyze the poem; speaking of their alcoholic father who abused them. Tony Hoagland uses diction and imagery in this narrative poem to create a melancholy tone. The speaker imagines when their father dies, he will be reincarnated as a dog. They say they know what their favorite sound will be (opening fridge, cracking an ice cube tray, the clink of ice bouncing around in a glass). As a dog, he won’t be able to speak, (pronounce favorite drink, express preference for malt) he will only be able to bark and point his nose…show more content…
Hoagland uses the word “dies” instead of “passes away”, this seems like a cold-hearted word instead of the passing of a loved one. We can infer he had a difficult and confusing relationship with his father. When Hoagland states, “I mistakenly believed that it was love concealed in his closed hand”, it shows how he believed his father loved him even through his abuse. Hoagland’s poem has a melancholic tone in that all the son wanted to do was please his father, who was both abusive and an alcoholic, and how the son tried to believe that even though his father abused him, he still loved him. Hoagland uses a lot of “ah” sounds with the letter in this poem such as in “soft”, “dropped”, and “bottle”. He also uses a lot of short and harsh words such as “dies”, “dog”, and “cold”. This helps create and develop the melancholy
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