Compare And Contrast The History Teacher By Willbur And Collins

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Mary Lonergan
Mr. Pellerin
Ap Lit

Both poems by Willbur and Collins explore the consequences of shielding children from harsh truths, as Willbur describes a caretaker lying to a child about an owl’s call in the “Barred Owl”, while Collins’ poem, the “History Teacher” contains a history teacher who disguises the truth about historical events to his class. Although both poems deal with themes of truthfulness, Collins’s poem explores the serious consequences of sugarcoating historical information, while the lie described in Wilbur’s poem has far less of an impact. Furthermore, although Wilbur and Collins make different choices in terms of literary devices, both poems follow a similar structure, with the content of the lies presented …show more content…

As explained in the opening stanza of the poem, the teacher chooses to lie in an effort to “protect students’ innocence”. However, the teacher’s efforts backfire after the students begin to target “the weak and the smart”, as a result of not experiencing the opportunity to learn from history. This demonstrates the serious consequences of the teacher’s lie, despite the fact that the teacher had good intentions. Although the tone of Colin’s poem is somewhat comedic, Colin manages to demonstrate the effect of not learning from history through the story of the history …show more content…

While the history teacher in Collins’ poem lies to protect the students’ innocence, the parents in Wilbur’s poem lie to soothe the child’s fear. For instance, in the second stanza, Wilbur shifts to explain that language can either provide inspiration for fear, or “domesticate” fear, which emphasizes the power of language. However, As Wilbur explains, although the child’s fear is temporarily alleviated by the lie, the parent’s lie does nothing to actually eliminate the reality of the situation, as the owl is still outside the child’s window hunting. In this way, Wilbur emphasizes how comforting lies do little to actually solve problems, even though they may provide short-term consolation. In this way, both Wilbur and Colins explore similar themes of dishonesty. Although the consequences of the lie described in Wilbur’s poem are less serious compared to the consequences of the lie described by Collins, both poems explore the impact of avoiding difficult topics by sugarcoating information. Wilbur and Collins’ poems also follow a similar structure, with the lies introduced in the first stanzas of the poem, and the impact of the lies detailed in the later

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