Although they describe the same incident, these two texts differ not only in points of style and detail but also in terms of their respective authors’ intentions. Charles Darwin, the eminent Victorian naturalist, describes his killing of the fox in his journal, which was probably aimed at a well educated audience including fellow scientists. Gitings’s poem contains much more evocative language and imagery because the poet writes from a different perspective.
Charles Darwin’s “Voyage of the Beagle” is written as a prose text and is factual, formal, and written like a journal. In his passage he uses words like “theodolite” and “species” which suggests that the passage was aimed at a well educated audience partially his fellow scientists, as other people back then were less intelligent and wouldn’t have known what those words meant. Another clue to suggest that it is meant for scientists is the use of the in parenthesis of “Canis fulvipes” which is the Latin term for a fox.
Darwin’s work was very important to him so in his journal he uses litotes like “knock” to make the killing of the fox sound less brutal, which helps keep the scientists on his side by not portraying him as a savage silent murderer, it also hides his embarrassment about killing the fox. His passage contains some irony as his work is based on the survival of the fittest and evolution, but when he kills the fox with his geological hammer it shows that he is only the fittest because he is armed with a weapon. But in the whole passage about the fox it contains a lot of ambivalence, as he wants to boast about how he was able to sneak up on the fox and kill it without it knowing, and about his new scientific find but he then uses words like “knock” to make it seem like he is not boasting.
However Gitings’s poem differs in many ways. Firstly it is a poem written in rhyming couplets with a lyrical flowing feel to it. He first begins off describing how the colour of the magnificent fox stands out from the craggy rocks of the island and then does out to personalise that fox by using “his”. For example “Round his haunches the brush curled”. This makes the audience feel for the animal like a human being rather than an animal. Throughout the beginning of the poem Gitings uses soft sounds like “se” sound in “ease” and “geese” to make the fox sound more innocent but when the humans arrive on the island he begins to use harsher sounds like “out” in “shout” to make the humans seem out of place and savage. At the beginning he also uses ” The spear flight of a wedge of geese” symbolically, as to warn the reader of what is going to happen to the fox.
Again later Gitings personalises the fox by describing the theodolite as “three-legged to their two”, this makes you see the humans and their equipment through the fox’s point of view and make it simple like the fox would see it. Then when he gets to the point where Darwin kills the fox he uses “hiss” as a connotation which adds to the danger effect because hiss is generally associated with snakes. He describes the fox’s eyes as “glazed to eternity because later when the real eyes have rotted away, it would be replaced with artificial eyes and then the fox would be stuffed and left in a museum, this makes you feel for the fox and makes you hate Darwin even more. Then to make us hate Darwin more he adds the line “And Mr Darwin, with a cough/ Scoops up the body and makes off” which shows us that Darwin doesn’t care and that the fox is just another specimen for his theory ,and to show this he then uses the line “the fine mesh of his theory” which is a metaphor of “the animal trapped in the mesh”
Just like the other poem this one contains irony as well :-
Somehow will prove this nature’s plan
Selected by his larger skull
To crack the other pitiful
And far away the whole affair
These four lines are meant to ridicule Darwin’s theory of evolution as humans are only more dominant that other animals because of out technology which was fuelled by our thirst for knowledge.
Yet Breeding all dilemma there.
The animals of science have
Invaded life. The wise and brave
Are nothing or corrupted. Now
The mushroom cloud begins to grow
In these lines and the whole poem Gitings sees the killing of the fox as a poignant symbol for the future, because in the five lines above he explains how the human thirst for knowledge will lead us to destruction. He uses the A-bomb as an example; “the mushroom cloud begins to grow” because that is one of the dreadful things that humans have created because of knowledge.
Both texts are different in many ways even though that talk about the same incident that happened. Darwin saw the incident as a triumph for mankind but Gitings saw it as the undoing of mankind so he uses everything he could to criticise Darwin and the killing of the fox. Connotation, metaphor, litotes, genre, prose text or poem text and even personification were many of the things that differed between the two poems.
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