Monday, September 30, 2019
Michael OndaatjeÃ¢â¬â¢s Ã¢â¬ÅElizabethÃ¢â¬Â Essay
Michael OndaatjeÃ¢â¬â¢s Ã¢â¬Å"ElizabethÃ¢â¬ portrays the life of the English Queen Elizabeth I. Ondaatje fuses prose and poetry, fact and fiction, realism and surrealism. The effect of this fusion creates a high degree of dramatic realism. It illustrates the progression and transition from childhood to adulthood. The Poem opens with a young Elizabeth harvesting apples with her father (King Henry VIII) and Uncle Jack (fictional character); preceded by a trip to the zoo. The atmosphere suddenly shifts from going to the zoo, to ice fishing with Philip (King of Spain) on a cold winter day. Abruptly, the atmosphere and time shifts again to describing MaryÃ¢â¬â¢s (ElizabethÃ¢â¬â¢s stepsister) teeth. Then jumps to a dancing scene with ElizabethÃ¢â¬â¢s confidant, Tom (Lord Thomas Seymour), which is followed by the execution of Tom. Finally, the poem ends with a rather short description of Elizabeth writing poems with another confidant, the Earl of Essex. The narrative lines and descriptive passages employed in Ã¢â¬Å"ElizabethÃ¢â¬ do not flow logically and coherently from point A to point B. The names do not appear to be in historical and chronological order; however, they fit into a generalized image of the political mayhem, betrayal, and punishments of that time. ElizabethÃ¢â¬â¢s stepsister Ã¢â¬Å"ÃÅ"BloodyÃ¢â¬â¢ Mary Tudor, MaryÃ¢â¬â¢s husband Philip II of Spain, the unfortunate Lord Tom Seymour, and her late favorite, the Earl of Essex, were all executed. OndaatjeÃ¢â¬â¢s Ã¢â¬Å"ElizabethÃ¢â¬ alters from child-voice through adolescent-voice to adult-voice, catching the tone of each stage of maturity. OndaatjeÃ¢â¬â¢s imitation of the tones shows how Elizabeth must, through debilitating maturity and complex situations, sacrifice passion to power, as how a young ruler would have to. For example in stanza three, Philip Ã¢â¬Å"broke the iceÃ¢â¬ (19) and Ã¢â¬Å"then he [Philip] kissed me [Elizabeth]Ã¢â¬ (22), suggests that love is deceitful, and is to be avoided. Furthermore in stanza five, Ã¢â¬Å"I kept the love in my palm till it blisteredÃ¢â¬ (34) connotes that love is painful and not time-worthy. Death is present and apparent in last stanzas as both threat and momento mori (remembrance for the dead), even to the young mischievous girl who Ã¢â¬Å"hid the apple in my room/ till it shrunk like a face/Ã growing eyes and teeth ribsÃ¢â¬ (7-9). The symbolic references to Ã¢â¬Å"appleÃ¢â¬ (2) and Ã¢â¬Å"snakeÃ¢â¬ (12) conjure up the relationship between ElizabethÃ¢â¬â¢s life to that of AdamÃ¢â¬â¢s and EveÃ¢â¬â¢s. The evil, deceptive snake in Adam and Eve convinces Eve to eat the apple, which in the end leads to her downfall. ElizabethÃ¢â¬â¢s father, King Henry VIII of England, compliments and sides with snake in the zoo, by describing it as Ã¢â¬Å"SmartÃ¢â¬ (16). This siding of the snake might indicate to the readers of the residing evil within him. In stanza three, the image of ice fishing and eating raw, uncooked fish implies a primitive and uncivilized way of living. A primitive life is a dangerous one. The correlation between the snake, the father, and the primitiveness can lead to a sense of danger in ElizabethÃ¢â¬â¢s life. Elizabeth senses the danger and evades it by becoming sly and controlling. This is indicated by the tonal transition in as she slides from thoughts of Ã¢â¬Å"Tom, soft laughingÃ¢â¬ (28) and Ã¢â¬Å"turning / with the rhythm of the sun on warped branches, / whoÃ¢â¬â¢d hold my breast and watch it move like a snail / leaving his quick urgent love in my palmÃ¢â¬ (30-34), to his beheading, and finally to her later Ã¢â¬Å"coolÃ¢â¬ (44) flirtations Ã¢â¬Å"with white young Essex (45). Nevertheless, ElizabethÃ¢â¬â¢s control of voice captures the readersÃ¢â¬â¢ attention. Ã¢â¬Å"ElizabethÃ¢â¬ is one example of OndaatjeÃ¢â¬â¢s attempts to defy traditional poetry writing. And he achieves it in the incoherency of events, the un-rhythmic lines and the irregular stanzas.