Lived 1849 – 1903
He was an English poet
Was diagnosed with tuberculosis at a young age
Henley had to have one of his legs amputated
Had many operations on his other leg
Spend 20 months in hospital and wrote poems about his memories there
POINT – The whole poem is an extended metaphor because some of the phrases, even though they make sense in their literal form, refer to a bigger picture.
EVIDENCE: “My head is bloody, but unbowed.”
EXPLANATION: In his example the speaker doesn’t refer to his head but to the fact that despite his scars (may they be mental or physical) he still maintains his pride.
EFFECT – In this case, the extended metaphor makes the reader feel a certain type of pride as if he, himself had been hurt but is able to stand and walk with dignity.
LINK TO THEME: I think that this example of extended metaphor links to the theme of SELF-RESPECT.
POINT: The speaker uses alliteration to put emphasis on a certain phrase, thus making it stand out to the reader.
EVIDENCE: “In the fell clutch of circumstance” (verse 5)
EXPLANATION: This phrase stands out to the reader because the fact that the two words begin with the same letter makes him / her pause for a second and think about it.
EFFECT: When reading this phrase, I felt, for a second, an atmosphere of significance and importance the same way that sort of clutch of circumstance must have made the speaker in the poem feel.
LINK TO THEME: This piece of alliteration, I think can be linked to the theme of STRUGGLE as the word clutch is used in more of a negative than a positive way.
POINT: The speaker shows the importance of a word or phrase by capitalization that would, under other circumstances, be grammatically incorrect.
EVIDENCE: “Looms but the Horror of shade,” (verse 10)
EXPLANATION: The fact that the word horror is capitalized, shows us how significant it is and how much it means to the speaker.
EFFECT: This emphasis creates an atmosphere of darkness and cold, making the reader feel the Horror of shade.
LINK TO THEME: I think that this emphasis by capitalization is linked to the theme STRUGGLE as it illustrates the environment the speaker feels he / she is in.
I think that the main purpose of the poem is to inspire the reader to never give up and surrender to his / her fate but fight with pride.
The poem’s message is that we are the ones who control what happens to us and that a person should always carry the attitude that only he / she is responsible for his / her life’s course.
“I am the master of my fate, / I am the captain of my soul.” (verse 15-16)
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