Compare and Contrast the Ways in Which Two Poets Create Sympathy for Their Characters – ‘on a Portrait of a Deaf Man’ and ‘the River God’.

1032 Words Oct 1st, 2013 5 Pages
Compare and Contrast the ways in which two Poets create Sympathy for their Characters – ‘On a Portrait of a Deaf Man’ and ‘The River God’.

The poems ‘On a Portrait of a Deaf Man’, written by John Betjeman and ‘The River God’, written by Stevie Smith appear as two very different poems; one in monologue form and the other in a regular form; but they are in fact two very similar poems. ‘On a Portrait of a Deaf Man’ presents a character mourning the death of a deaf man who was very close to him/her, and ‘The River God’ presents a lonely God who is abused by people and resorts to murdering women to keep himself company.

Both characters are lonely and the portrayal of this loneliness causes you – the reader - to feel sympathetic towards
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This causes you to feel sympathetic because you see someone who asked God to save him yet he still died – ‘see decay’.

The poems both begin with descriptions of characters. ‘The River God’ begins ‘the kind old face, the egg-shaped head’ and ‘On a Portrait of a Deaf Man’ begins ‘I may be smelly and I may be old’; the first description makes you feel sad that someone kind and good has died and the second makes you feel pitiful for the river, it’s not the river’s fault that it’s that way as it’s reflective of old age and the abuse it has had by mankind, all of which you would be distraught if you found yourself in so you can feel sympathetic towards them.

The poets use the death of a person to draw sympathy from you. In ‘The River God’ a woman dies, one that he was fond of and he was against her dying; in ‘On a Portrait of a Deaf Man’ a friendly deaf man dies, presumably suddenly; these draw your sympathy because it suggests that they are lonely, in a state of mourning and vulnerable – all of which are states in which you would not want to find yourself and when you see someone else in such a state, you will feel sympathetic and be able to relate to the emotions they are feeling.

The poets use the deaths of characters in their poems to create side-personas for the characters through the persona of the main-speaking character. ‘The River God’ uses the dead woman to give another perspective of what’s going on, ‘This beautiful lady, or will

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