The Hunchback in the Park and Horse Whisperer Essay
The Hunchback in the Park and Horse Whisperer
Both poets, Dylan Thomas and Andrew Forster, present isolated characters in The Hunchback in the Park and Horse Whisperer respectively. However, whilst there are many similarities in the way that these characters have been expressed, there are key differences which set the poems apart. For example, the horse whisperer himself was driven ‘from villages and farms’ whereas Dylan Thomas presents the ‘hunchback’ as a character that has an element of freedom when it comes to where he lives.
An example of this freedom is that the hunchback ‘slept at night in a dog kennel/ but nobody chained him up. ’ This shows that whilst the ‘old dog sleeper’ didn’t really have a huge choice of where he lives, he is still accepted as inhabiting the park. One way in which the hunchback is described as a character that has been excluded from society is as a ‘solitary mister’. The word ‘solitary’ presents how isolated he is from general society. Also, the reference to the character as both ‘mister’ and ‘the hunchback’ avoids giving him a true identity.
This anonymity is an important expression that the character is missing key aspects of standard society such as a name, and it also points out that this lonely character does not require a name because he is never talked to. The Horse Whisperer is similar in this regard, in that we never find out the characters name, and there is no dialogue to represent any form of social aspect to his life. Despite this, the Horse Whisperer is written in first person, which gives some form of identity to the speaker and allows us to associate certain characteristics with the horse whisperer.
For example we discover that he or she misses the horses, naming them in the poem as ‘Shire, Clydesdale, Suffolk’, and ‘the pride’. This shows that the horse whisperer had an emotional relationship with the horses themselves, and this was possibly in place of a lack of inclusion in normal society. By including this in the poem, Andrew Forster presents society’s view that the horse whisperer was inferior by placing him or her on the same level as the animal they care for.
This can be linked to The Hunchback in the Park, where several pieces of evidence of animal imagery which have the same effect can be found. Examples of this include ‘Like the park birds he came early’ and ‘Through the loud zoo of the willow groves’. In addition, animals only communicate very basically, without the complexity that humans do. By referring to the two characters as animals in the poems, both poets exemplify how isolated the characters are from a normal society. Dylan Thomas uses an irregular rhyme scheme in The Hunchback in the Park.
This could be used to present the lack of education that the hunchback received, since he is the subject of the poem. This would also explain the total lack of punctuation except from a full stop to end the poem, as this is also a key sign of education. However, the Horse Whisperer uses moderate punctuation, and has no rhyme scheme. The language used in both poems is selected to focus on the isolation of the characters. In Horse Whisperer, for example, when describing how they escaped from the place they kept the horses in; they joined ‘others of [the horse whisperer’s] kind’.
Although this hints that the whisperer had other people like them, and therefore was not totally excluded, the acceptance of them self as another ‘kind’ signifies how their difference separates them from general society. Horse Whisperer uses free verse, incorporating a structure where stanzas are of varying length. However The Hunchback in the Park is a narrative poem, using six line stanzas throughout. The latter adds a sense of rhythm to the poem, suggesting that the hunchback’s life is constantly repeating as he spends every day in the same place, doing the same things.
This is contrasted with the free verse poem by Andrew Forster, which does not involve a character whose life is fixed; in fact it is quite the opposite. Despite these key differences, the tone of both poems is dreary, with an added sense of despondency. This is reflected in Horse Whisperer, when the narrator says ‘I was the life-blood/ no longer’ and in The Hunchback in the Park when he imagines a tree as having ‘a woman figure without fault’. Both characters have lost hope as a result of what has happened to them.
In addition, the abrupt punctuation in the Horse Whisperer adds a sense of negativity and dreariness, such as when he or she ‘was scorned as demon and witch. ’ A theme of loneliness is explored in both poems. In Horse Whisper, this becomes overt when the character expresses that she misses the horses, going in to detail about their ‘glistening veins’ and ‘steady tread’. As the horses appear to have been the whisperer’s only friends, these quotes show the loneliness of the character. The loneliness of the hunchback is perhaps more apparent to the reader.
Exemplifying this is that he is described as ‘Alone between nurses and swans’. Even whilst surrounded by nature, the hunchback feels lonely, most likely due to his lack of communication with other humans. Neither characters are described as being embarrassed about their lives or actions, and therefore an undertone of pride is carried throughout the poems, however it is more prominent in Horse Whisperer, with the character specifically outlining how proud he or she was of the horses that they cared of, and what they had done for them.
In conclusion, there are several similarities in the way that loneliness and isolation is presented in the two poems, such as by the use of language and structure. Equally, there are many differences that cause the poems to differ, form being the most obvious of examples. Overall, it seems as if the hunchback described by Dylan Thomas is the more isolated of the two, with no human contact except when greeted by ‘the truant boys from town’, and the more explicit use of language that suggests his loneliness, not to mention his imagination of a tree as a woman.
Subject: Narrative poetry,
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 19 May 2018