Long Question: Discuss the Themes in the poem Snake.
Education VS morality: Man has an innate understanding of the laws of nature. If left to himself, he will respect all the creatures if nature and never attempt to harm them. His sense of morality will not allow him to feel superior to any bird or beast, and will not allow him to kill or maim them either. However, man’s education says that certain creatures are to be feared and that man must kill them in order to save himself. But Lawrence feels that we must unlearn such heinous concepts, and go back to our natural morality. We should love all creatures made by god equally and must treat them well. That is why he is unable first to kill the snake and then is filled with remorse for having hit it with a log. He sees this as a chance to interact with a majestic creature that he himself as missed.
Reversal of Edenic myth: The Bible tells us the story of the Fall of man. In this story, Adam and Eve are in the Garden of Eden and have been asked never to partake of the Forbidden Fruit of the Tree of Life. However, Satan comes to Eve in the guise of a snake and tempts her to eat an apple from that tree. Eve convinces Adam to do the same and God punishes Man for disobeying him by expelling Adam and Eve from Paradise. The snake here is seen as a malicious and dishonest creature, and an incarnation of the Devil because of which man’s future is at stake. However, Lawrence totally reverses this myth in his poem. For him, the snake is a god in itself. It is not malicious, but gentle and magnificent. It doesn’t harm man, but lives for its own sake. That is why Lawrence is honoured at its presence and does not want it to leave.
1. Why does the poet decide to stand and wait till the snake has finished drinking? What quality of the poet is apparent here?
The weather was extremely hot and the snake seemed to be very thirsty. The poet being genteel and awestruck towards the creature stands and waits till the snake has finished quenching its thirst. This reveals that the poet was considerate and of a sympathetic nature. Also notice the use of ‘someone’ instead of ‘something’ for the snake.
2. The poet gives a vivid description of the snake. Describe accordingly.
The snake, which visited the poet had a yellowish brown belly, which drooped along the edge of the stone trough. He was resting his throat upon the stone bottom and sipping water from the trough into his sleek long body. After quenching his thirst, he raised his head and flickered his forked tongue.
3. The poet experiences feelings of self hatred, guilt and regret after hitting the snake with a log. Pick out expressions that suggest this. Why does he feel like this?
Following are the lines that express the despise the poet feels for himself after hurling the log at the snake;
i) “And immediately I regretted it.”
ii) “I thought how paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act!”
iii) “I despised myself.”
The poet feels this way because his conscience is pricking on him and he feels terribly guilty for trying to kill the snake without any cause.
4. Why does D.H Lawrence make an allusion to the albatross from Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’?
The poet brings up a comparison with an event of the celebrated poem of S.T. Coleridge, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.’ He finds similarity of his act to that of the mariner’s. In Coleridge’s poem, the mariner had killed the albatross when it visited his hip for shallow reason and later the mariner longed for its return. In this poem too, D.H Lawrence tried to harm the snake by hurling a log without any proper cause and later had longed for its return from the underworld.
Detailed Analysis: We have considered your feedback and did a detailed analysis of quite a few poems at Beamingnotes. Luckily, the poem you’re reading now, Snake does have a detailed analysis. This will let you understand the poem in great depth and help you score good! Here are the following links- For annotations: Meaning and annotations of the poem Snake ; For complete line by line Summary: Summary of the Snake; For detailed critical analysis: Critical Analysis of Snake and for suggested solved questions: Solved Question and Answers from Snake.
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