Essay about A Critical Analysis of Judith Wright's 'the Killer'

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Judith Wright's poem `The Killer' explores the relationship between Humans and Nature, and provides an insight into the primitive instincts which characterize both the speaker and the subject. These aspects of the poem find expression in the irony of the title and are also underlined by the various technical devices employed by the poet.

The construction of the poem is in regular four-line stanzas, of which the first two stanzas provide the exposition, setting the scene; the next three stanzas encompass the major action; and the final two stanzas present the poet's reflection on the meaning of her experience.

In the first stanza, the poet seems to be offering a conventional romanticized view of Nature:

The day was clear as fire
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Compared with the sedate, regular metrical pattern of the previous lines, we now find that the stresses are more rapid and erratic, thus reinforcing the actions and feelings of the speaker. Confronted by the snake, the reaction of the speaker is one of antipathy and fear, coupled with panic.

The uneven length of the lines in the third stanza mimics the irregular breathing of the speaker who is transfixed with terror at the sight of the snake: `Black horror sprang from the dark/ in a violent birth.'

By the use of onomatopoeia, the poet expresses the emotions of the speaker both succinctly and evocatively. Words such as `dark', `birth', and `earth' have a certain morbidity about them, and in the context of the statement `I felt the clutch of earth', one feels a premonition of death.

Immediately, the instinct of self-preservation is aroused as the speaker recalls a popular superstition about the snake having the power to hypnotize its victims, an idea that is cleverly illustrated in the lines, `...life itself/ drains through those colourless eyes.' Note how the diction and rhythm here produce a mesmeric effect on the reader.

In the stanzas which describe the killing of the snake, the predominate use of stressed syllables echoes the action of the speaker: `O beat him into the ground/ O strike him till he dies.' Also, the exhortatory effect of `beat' and `strike' invokes a telling antithesis between the human's vociferous
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