Literary Analysis Of The Fish By Elizabeth Bishop

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Many know how the classic fisherman’s story goes: patient waiting that results in the catching of a fish, but not just any fish. A huge fish. A fish bigger than expected or imagined. A “whopper”, so to speak. However, in her poem “The Fish,” poet Elizabeth Bishop rejects the common sequence of events that occur within the fisherman’s tale and instead, through vivid imagery, reverent diction, and contradictory comparisons, pushes the assertion that even the seemingly weak and battered deserve respect for their survival and the hardships they have endured. Bishop evokes emotion within her readers with the speaker’s detailed description of the fish. It is “battered” and “homely” and its “brown skin [hangs] in strips” (8-10). The description plays upon one’s aversion to cruelty and the sympathy inspired when encountering one who has been afflicted by it. The speaker continues this vein as she notes “the frightening gills, fresh and crisp with blood” and imagines the fish’s insides, “the dramatic reds and blacks of his shiny entrails”(24-25, 30-31). The illustration presented carries more emotional weight than just one-dimensional and minimal description. The reader gains sympathy for the fish, just as the speaker does, in seeing the unfortunately ugly appearance of the animal. The speaker’s use of imagery also portrays the age of the fish, presenting it having skin “like ancient wallpaper” and being “speckled with barnacles” (11, 16). The seemingly advanced age of the creature

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