Human Condition In Gwen Harwood's Poems Father And Child

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The multifaceted nature of the human condition encompasses all aspects of human life at both an individual and collective level and delves into the notion of humanity and the values it comprises. Gwen Harwood’s poems’ “Father and Child” and “Mother who gave me life,” and Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery” (1998), explore the dynamic and often contradictory nature of the human condition. Harwood portrays the transience of time and inescapable truth of mortality, illustrating the ever changing complexion of the human experience. Whereas, Jackson examines the capability of all humans to be violent and cruel while questioning whether such tendencies can be masked by a constrictive society’s heartless ideals. Harwood explores the brevity…show more content…
She utilises a diptych structure which portrays the contrast of a child’s naive image of death to the more mature understanding they obtain as they transition into adulthood. This highlighted in ‘I Barn Owl’ where the use of emotive language, “I watched, afraid/ …, a lonely child who believed death clean/ and final, not this obscene”, emphasises the confronting nature of death for a child which is further accentuated through the use of enjambment which conveys the narrator’s distress. In contrast, ‘II Nightfall’, the symbolism of life as a “marvellous journey” that comes to an end when “night and day are one” reflects the narrator’s more refined and mature understanding of mortality. Furthermore the reference to the “child once quick/to mischief, grown to learn/what sorrows,…/no words, no tears can mend” reaffirms the change in the narrator’s perspective on death through the contrast of a quality associated with innocence, “mischief”, with more negative emotions associated with adulthood, “sorrows”. The narrator’s changing understanding of the inevitability of death across the two sections of the poem illustrates the dynamic and contrasting nature of the human
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