Liquid Addiction Essay

1154 words - 5 pages

Have you ever been so attached to something that you could never live without it? Whether it be television, chocolate or substances more severe like alcohol, everyone has experienced addiction at one time or another. When the brain is introduced to something it enjoys very much, it tends to want to experience that same feeling again. So in a way, it forces a person to crave that specific object and eventually become dependent. Some substances like drugs or alcohol if abused, can have similar negative effects on the user. Robert Lowell, an award winning poet famous for his influence in confessional poetry, suffered problems with drugs, which ruined his life. In “The Drinker” Robert Lowell, uses symbolism, imagery, and diction to show that a person who struggles with alcoholism may desperately search for help, but eventually realize that he must overcome his addiction on his own.

Lowell starts the poem depicting an alcoholic man’s disorderly life in order to make the reader sympathize with the man. The poem begins showing a man who clearly has a drinking problem. Lowell specifically states that this man is killing time, doing nothing useful. Acknowledging that the man got “no help now from the fifth of bourbon,/ Chucked helter-skelter into the river,” (3) Lowell emphasizes him throwing the bourbon into the river crazily and without any idea about what he was doing. This shows the toll alcohol is taking on his mind, making him do things that someone wouldn’t normally do. Later in the poem, readers get to view the man’s house while he is intoxicated. All around his room, “Stubbed before-breakfast cigarettes /burn bulls-eyes on the bedside table;” (5-6) Lowell describes this image using words like burning bull’s eyes to show the severity of the alcohol, affecting his surroundings. The disgusting state of his house allows the reader to see the disorganization in his life. Lowell describes the speakers horrible condition to make the reader sympathize with the man. The man then begins to see how his addiction affects his body, realizing that he will get “No help from his body, the whale’s /warm-hearted blubber foundering down the / leagues of the ocean.” (9-11) Lowell compares the man’s body to a whale struggling to get free of harpoons as it sinks to the bottom of the sea. Just as the whale is unable to free itself from the barbed hooks, his body can’t free itself from the addiction to alcohol. By revealing the man’s horrible life, dealing with alcoholism, Lowell gives the reader the opportunity to feel for the man.

As the poem continues, the persona tries to search for help, but as depicted in the poem, his search is useless. The man would search but find nothing, “When he looks for neighbors, their names blur in the / window.” (13-14) When the man searches for aid he receives none, best expressed when Lowell says their names blur in the window. This shows that the neighbors aren’t going to help the man and their names blur as they try to avoid...

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