A Formalistic Analysis of The Fatal Sisters

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A Formalistic Analysis of The Fatal Sisters

In “The Fatal Sisters” Thomas Gray has created a monologue pregnant with references to history, geography, and mythology. These reappearing references and allusions enrich the text, as they allow a closer look at the political situation surrounding eleventh century Britain. The poems’ sixteen stanzas exhibit an ABAB rhyme scheme, which provides for systematic organization and positive aesthetic effects. Closer examination of the setting, tone, and imagery of the poem permits insight into the text’s content and artistic genius.

The setting for “The Fatal Sisters” is an eleventh century, war-ridden Ireland. The nation’s fate appears to rest upon the shoulders of a few bloodthirsty
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The women are described as “gigantic”, which adds to their obscure mystery. The twelve characters hastily engage in their main task of weaving while singing the gruesome poetry. Furthermore, the geological aspect of the setting intensifies the poem’s fantastic air as it describes the scene to be an inscrutable cave inside a hill in rural Ireland.
The tone Gray builds throughout the poem is one of darkness. Since there is no direct action and plot during the course of the text, the tone it bears is generally passive, although it changes towards the end. The tone is characterized by the pessimistic and dark foreshadowing that echoes throughout the poem. Reappearing reference to war and the brutality of battle further aid the development of the gloomy tone. As the poem progresses, the tone changes. This becomes evident in the last three stanzas, when the loom is finished and “the work is done”. After the achievement of this task the mellow tone shifts towards excitement and motivation. Stanza 14 shows this change in tone utilizing two back to back exclamations or demands that hastily call for immediate action to spread the fate.
Intensively striking war imagery emerges throughout the course of the text and therefore effectively joins its underlining fore. Graphic images of the grotesque face of war characterize and develop the…