Dissatisfaction with Society Revealed in Yeats’ Stolen Child

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Dissatisfaction with Society Revealed in Yeats’ Stolen Child

The Stolen Child,"a poem by W.B. Yeats, relates the story of a child who is lured away by fairies to a fantasy world illustrated through rich descriptions of nature and the freedom it offers. The plot of the poem becomes a metaphor for the return to innocence that the author feels is necessary in a society that is attempting to lead children away from the mysticism and innocence that characterize childhood, toward a more mundane reality as an adult. With his vivid descriptions and use of extended metaphor, Yeats is able to create a world unaffected by time, in stark contrast to the world in which we live, to illustrate his dissatisfaction with reality.

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The island could also be symbolic of the womb, a watery environment that protected the developing child from the world. This imagery would support Yeats' message that we must rekindle the innocence and abandon of our youth, which has been controlled and limited by the confines of modern society. The use of rushing water as a symbol of freedom continues in the third stanza where Yeats describes how the "wandering water gushes... in pools among the rushes" (28).

In the final stanza, Yeats draws his most striking contrast of all to illustrate his message. He does this by following the descriptions of nature in its wildest form, of the previous stanzas, with those of the domestic atmosphere from which the child is being taken, in this stanza. Initially, Yeats established the setting of the poem in the first stanza by describing a place "Where flapping herons wake / The drowsy water rats" (5). This is contrasted in this stanza with images of "calves on the warm hillside / Or the kettle on the hob / Or... the brown mice" (45). Calves, kettles, and mice are all images that are associated with a domestic farm or a country home. Thus, this imagery is being used to portray how modern society has enslaved nature, controlling its freedom. Water rats and herons, on the other hand, are both wild and free animals that are found near water, the symbol

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