"Thistles" By Ted Hughs Essay

988 words - 4 pages

In the poem "Thistles" by Ted Hughes there are a number of different themes and ideas that are put across. George Macbeth, the acclaimed literary critic, has made some very powerful and in-depth comments about the poem. He states that the poem is"praise to the unkillable virtue of heroism" I personally am not sure whether to disagree or agree with this analogy. However I do agree with later comments about Hughes "presenting this quality through the nature of part of a vegetable, rather than the animal kingdom, he contrives to give it an air of naturalness and inevitability, as if heroism like the flowers in spring is something that must go on forever."I am sitting on the fence of indecision with Macbeth on his "praise to the unkillable virtue of heroism." Mainly because I do not believe that what the 'Thistle' is doing in the poem has anything at all to do with heroism. The 'Thistle' is doing what it has to do to protect its homeland from the invading Norseman. With reference to other Scottish legends such as William Wallace I can say that bravery is shown not by those who aim to be brave but by those who believe in a cause and are willing to give everything they possess in the face of almost insurmountable odds to achieve their cause. William Wallace stepped up for Scotland where no one else would and he had the courage to do this. That is heroism. In some ways this poem is about the "praise to the unkillable virtue of heroism" but the 'Thistle' is not being brave in what it has to do. The 'Thistle' is merely acting by instinct. It would draw "plumes of blood" from anyone who decides to touch it, whether they are friend of foe. The 'Thistle is literally striking out at everyone with a "revengeful burst."Heroism is not a virtue by normal standards, and while I believe that is a very important theme in the poem I do not believe that it is the major one. In my opinion the major theme in the poem is one of Patriotism. The whole land is demanding a way to rid themselves of the "Vikings" and it is the whole land that steps up. The 'Thistle' is a symbol of the Scottish people and of their undying hatred that is taken up by all the land. I also believe that there is actual truth in Hughes words, for the Vikings, being from Denmark probably had not had much experience with the vicious flora of Scotland and most likely many a Viking was crippled by the unyielding onslaught of painful "spikes." No doubt as can be seen this presents a very stirring image of what Hughes had been attempting to convey. However, even these vivid images are not enough to sway me completely in one direction.I strongly agree with Macbeth in his analogy of the "air of naturalness and inevitability." The use of the...

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