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How does Heaney present relationships between males in Digging and Follower

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  • Pages: 4
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  • Category: Relations

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Heaney presents male relationships in many different ways, through many different angles in Digging and Follower. The most obvious comparison that can be constructed between the two is that of Heaney’s apparent feeling of proudness and admiration towards his father, this is most prominent in Follower where we are told of Heaney’s father ploughing a field. Heaney uses complimentary language to portray his feelings towards his father “an expert”.

This quote shows that Heaney was proud of his father’s skill as a ploughman and might want to be like him one day, which becomes more apparent as the poem draws on.

In comparison to this Heaney seems to show similar level of appreciation to his grandfather’s ability ad a digger in Digging. This is apparent as Heaney boasts of how his “grandfather cut more turf in a day than any other man on Toner’s bog”, this clearly illustrates that Heaney saw his grandfather as almost a hero character as he was the most gifted digger on Toner’s bog. Furthermore it shows that Heaney has fond memories of his grandfather, this is evident as he boasts of how he once “carried him milk in a bottle”. This shows that although all he has left of his grandfather is memories he is proud to have known him and even carry him a drink.

Another point that is evident within both poems although for different reasons is that of the influence of Heaney’s male role models on what he wanted to do when he grew up at that time. This is clearest in Digging where he speaks of how the “squat pen rests”; this is a comparison to how the spade rests as if they were one with his father. However Heaney says that he doesn’t wish to exchange the squat pen for a spade and that he will “dig” with his pen for new ideas, this shows that although he has “no spade to follow” his father and grandfather and will dig in his own way and carry on family tradition.

In contrast to this Heaney is as the title says keen to “grow up and plough” like his father. Heaney seems to feel that a plougher should be a highly respected job as it takes a lot of skill, this is evident through Heaney’s constant use of complimentary language towards his father and his ploughing. In addition to this late on in the poem Heaney tells the reader that he wants to grow up and plough, “to close one eye, stiffen my arm…”. This shows that he admires his father so much that he even wants to have the same ploughing technique as him.

Explore the ways in which Heaney presents relationships between man and nature in Death of a Naturalist and At a Potato Digging?

Mans relationship with nature is presented in many different ways in Heaneys At a Potato Digging and Death of a Naturalist, ultimately Heaney portrays mans relationship with nature to be a very fickle one as he shows how mans feelings towards nature drastically change. This is most evident in Death of a Naturalist when we are told of how Heaney would go to the “flax dam” to see the “frogspawn that grew like clotted water”, this shows how Heaney was fascinated by the development of nature.

However Heaney’s view of nature seems to change with the development of the frogspawn and later describes the frogs as “great slime kings”, this shows that Heaney’s naive views of nature seem to disappear with the naivety of the frogspawn and Heaney takes on a much more negative view towards nature ultimately portraying the fickleness of mans views.

Similarly in At a Potato Digging Heaney uses different periods of time to portray the change in mans relationship with nature, at the start of the poem Heaney uses the condition of the potatoes to good effect to portray mans feeling towards nature:

“… they show white as cream”.

This depicts the current feelings towards nature to be of a good basis as long as the potatoes are healthy. However Heaney uses the potato famine of 1845 to display how easily mans feeling toward nature can change, “stinking potatoes foul the land”.

This portrays a much more somber view towards “the bitch earth” as the potatoes have gone rotten. Furthermore Heaney presents the power of nature through his use of language towards humans, at the start the humans are depicted to be swarming which creates imagery of life and energy, however with the induction of the potato famine into the poem Heaney begins to use much more negative imagery to portray the potato diggers:

“…wild higgledy skeletons…”.

This portrays the people suffering from the famine to be weak, uncontrollable and dieing of hunger.

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