Okara, Duffy And Browning Concept Of Freedom

1560 words - 6 pages

Freedom is a concept open to interpretation, as is its contrast inhibition. Many poets try to express these concepts through subtle means; be it using implicit references or literary devices such as metaphors and similes. Poets seek to give form to these intangible concepts. For instance in Gabriel Okara’s ‘Once Upon a Time’ society’s expectations cause limitations on actions and force people to oppose what they are inclined to do in order to gain acceptance. Whereas freedom of understanding, which stems from the having knowledge of the world around you is portrayed in Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘War Photographer’. Both of the ways the ideas are presented in these poems are different to Robert Browning’s ‘My Last Duchess’ which shows an absence of freedom. Each of the stated poems attempts to emphasize liberty or lack thereof. They depict physical freedom from imprisonment or mental freedom from abuse. This shows the reader that there many different forms of freedom, and that it can be achieved in different ways.
In ‘Once upon a Time” Okara reveals how freedom can be diminished and deceptions established due to foreign influences. The quotation ‘I have learned to wear many faces like dresses’ this tells us that the persona’s masks prime aim is to conceal true thoughts and emotions. This indicates a lack of freedom of. The verb ‘have’ implies a lack of choice on the persona and that external influences are acting upon him. This therefore shows a lack of choice on the persona’s part due to the fact that the mask must be maintained, but to endear him to the society and its expectations. Okara uses a simile to both illustrate the frequency in which the masks are changed and the inhibition of social requirements which causes the changes, such as excessive amounts of politeness, which causes the changes. In fact deception, restraint and forceful adaptation to others beliefs is expressed in the whole of the fourth stanza of the poem. The sudden need for so many different personalities and demeanors may be attributed by Okara’s observations of how the Africans straightforwardness of their traditions and words, which are now laced with hidden meanings, this change which was caused by the arrival of western colonialism and modernization. Kara seems to have written “Once Upon A Time” to express his concern of western colonialism, particularly the British Empire who Nigeria was a colony of at Okara’s time eroding Ancient African tradition and Culture; in fact the poem was written as using his own observations of the British colonial rule of Nigeria, which he lived through. The idea of inhibition due to status is also presented in by Browning in ‘My Last Duchess’ the need of facades in both to pacify the society is evident throughout both poems. Another poem which is similar in this respect is Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two Beautiful People in a Mercedes”. Which highlights a façade that instead of being limited to individuals like the...

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