Formalistic Approach To Ode On The Death Of A Favorite Cat (Favourite)

589 words - 2 pages

Formalistic Approach to Ode on the Death of a Favorite Cat (Favourite)   


Formal analysis of poetry helps to unfold the underlying meaning of a poem. This technique does not focus on the author of the poem, or what was happening in history during the time when the poem was written, but instead puts emphasis on the actual mean of the work. Formal analysis breaths life into the literary work and allows the poem to speak for itself. For example, in Thomas Grays' poem "Ode on the Death of a Favorite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes," paying close attention to word choice, structure, and rhyme scheme illuminates the actions of the prowling cat.


The most important aspect in writing poetry is word choice. Thomas Gray did an excellent job in using descriptive words, along with using assonance and alliteration, throughout this poem to enhance imagery. For example, in the first stanza Gray describes the cat as being "pensive"(5) as it watches the fish below. This is followed in the second stanza as Gray uses alliteration and assonance to describe the physical features of the cat as having a "fair round face"(8), "snowy beard"(8), and "emerald eyes"(11). Word choice is the key to allowing the reader to visualize what the author is trying to portray.


Aside from description, key words can be used to help feel emotion and build suspense. By looking at this, the reader is able to see the transition of the cat from feeling happy and calm to scared for its life. In the second stanza, as the cat watches the gold fish she "purr'd applause"(12). However, this happiness soon turns to fear. The second to...

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