In Sylvia Plath’s poem the Sow, the fascinated narrator describes his encounter with his neighbors pig for the first time. Sylvia Plath uses diction and allusions to describe the sow from the narrator’s perspective. The poem also features an attitude shift towards the pig from this mysterious prize to this disappointing pig. The poem starts off with an aura of mystery. She describes the neighbor’s behavior using words and phrases like “shrewd secret” and “impounded from public stare. You can tell that the neighbor is trying to hide his ribbon winning pig from the public and that he is very proud of his pig. The narrator is very curious as to what this ribbon winning pig looks like. He is so curious to the point that he is commended to find his way through the “lantern-lit maze of barns” to see this pig. When he sees the pig for the first time the mood of the poem shifts. When he sees the pig for the first time he, it’s not what he had expected.
He says “this was no rose-and-larkspurred china” which implies the imperfections he finds with the pig. As he begins to describe the pig, his tone changes from wonder to pity for the pig. He describes the pig as a “Brobdingnag bulk” to describe how big this pig is by comparing it to the giants that live in Jonathan Swifts book Gulliver’s Travels. He sees this pig as this fat pig that can barely move, and is slowly rotting away, “on that black compost, fat-rutted eyes dream filled”.
He also compares the pig to an “our marvel blazoned a knight, helmed, in cuirass, unhorsed and shredded in the grove of combat by a grisly-bristled boar”. He sees the fat of the pig as armor and its scars as to those of battle wounds. Sylvia Plath was able to show the different thoughts the narrator has of his neighbors pig. She is able to show us how the narrator thinks that this pig is this magnificent creature even though it’s not. Through diction, comparisons, and allusions Sylvia Plath is able to show us what the narrator is seeing and feeling though out the poem.
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