Human Nature

1512 Words 7 Pages
Human nature can be of full compassion, care and understanding, but elements of sorrow, corruption and violence can also reside in our characters. Louis MacNeice’s “Prayer Before Birth”, Gabriel Okara’s “Once Upon a Time” and Carol Ann Duffy’s “War Photographer” all seek to explore the negative characteristics that are crucial to the human condition. MacNeice’s “Prayer Before Birth” was written during the Second World War. The poem explores the negative aspects of human nature through the perspective of an unborn child, who expresses a desperate fear of the world he is about to be born into. Similarly, Gabriel Okara’s "Once Upon Time" explores the falseness, fakeness and discrimination that plague human society by remembering the happiness …show more content…
Okara explores human nature by saying people fake their emotions to please people when he says “But now they only laugh with their teeth”. Okara uses harsh, monosyllabic sounds within the poem such as a harsh ‘T’ sound to create a sense of bitterness and disdain “While their ice block cold eyes search behind my shadow”. The effect of tripling creates a sense of lamenting or falseness in society shown throughout the poem which can mirror the disjointed rhythm within the poem. “Once Upon a Time” expresses superficiality and discrimination as the speaker reflects on his bad memories towards people he once knew. “Now they shake their hands without hearts”. Shaking hands without hearts literally shows a sign of dishonesty which presents no trust and the disingenuity of a handshake. Also the line “For then I find doors shut on me” creates a strong image of insincerity, abandonment and isolation. This shows the speaker once was excluded by people who turned against him. Okara uses the rhetorical device pathos to create a sense of pity within the reader. He creates a strong contrast between hope and disappointment by building a semantic field of emotion. Words such as ‘Shut’, ‘laugh’ and ‘nice’ all contribute to this throughout the poem. “Once Upon a Time” shows negative aspects of human nature as the writer creates a sense of exclusion between the …show more content…
The author explores the theme of human nature through conflict and the harshness of humanity in war, “Spools of suffering set out in rows”. The sibilance creates a harsh ‘S’ sound combined with the choice of diction ‘set out ordered in rows’, reflecting suffering and pain in war; ordered rows are ironic as photos are an oxymoron to the chaos created by warfare. Duffy shows the theme of conflict throughout the poem to further emphasize that cruelty is everywhere in human society. “Belfast, Beirut, Phnom Penh. All flesh is grass.” The significance and caesura of all these places shows the slowness and the gravity of the poem referring to places of conflict. “All flesh is grass” is a biblical term suggesting everything, no matter what, is part of humanity and is scarred by the impacts made by people. Aswell, Duffy discusses the negative aspects of human nature through the views of ordinary people. People who live their normal lives normally act dismissive and move on from what else is going on in the real world. When the speaker says “The reader’s eyeballs prick with tears between bath and pre-lunch beers.”, the negative emotion created by the people shows the emotion they show is not genuine. The internal rhyme creates a sense of security as if they were in their own bubble blocking out the real world from them, initially moving back to their normal

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