Nettles analysis

Here is a nettles analysis from the AQA english literature relationship cluster

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Stage 1:
Poem: Nettles
Subject: About a child falling into a patch of nettles and the child seeking comfort from his parents.
Themes: Protection, relationship of a parent and child, the true brutalities of life and powerlessness of a parent.
Messages: Even though the poet tries to protect his child, it regrows and the narrator notices that the child will
never be protected from life's brutalities.
Stage 2:
Poem: Nettles
Emotions, Anger- the father's angry at the nettles which hurts his son.
Feelings: Revenge- the narrator attacks the nettles and tries in a rage to destroy them.
Frustration- the narrator can't permanently remove the cause of his son's pain and knows that his son
will be hurt again and he can't stop it.
Tenderness- the narrator comforts and takes care of his hurt son.
Stage 3:
Poem: Nettles
What techniques are Martial (war) imagery and language dominate this poem, which may appear strange at first
used given the domestic subject matter. By bringing the two ideas together, Scannell is offering
And what effect do his opinion on each.
they Within 'two weeks', 'tall recruits' have been 'called up' to replace the nettles, a reference to
Have on the reader: soldiers being conscripted (forced to join the army), but also communicating the idea of an
enemy force that cannot be defeated.
The language is often linked to war to portray the brutality of life and symbolise the
pains that this young boy has to persevere through life. Martial imagery can at first
seem out of place - after all, the events of the poem are very insignificant compared to
the realities of war. However, the imagery and language is chosen to communicate the
idea that such incidents are significant and important in the eyes of a parent.
References to war might also suggest that the battle is futile. Whatever the father does
the nettles will grow back and his son will probably be hurt again, just as wars will
continue to occur, however violent the attempts to end them.
Personification as an opposing force. They are a 'regiment of spike', and are described using
the metaphor `spears'. Within the first three lines the nettles are presented as a violent and
aggressive group of soldiers to reflect the speaker's need to protect his child. When the
speaker is taking revenge on the nettles the writer again personifies them, describing them
as a "fierce parade" as if they were soldiers standing to attention, cut down by his scythe.
They are even given a 'funeral pyre' (a wooden structure made for bodies to be burned on
instead of being buried).
Emotive language, reflective of the compassion and sympathy the speaker feels for his
injured son: 'White blisters beaded on his tender skin' The emotive language used to
Bethany Cunningham Nettles

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Painful language - the narrator gives precise images of the boy's pain, but also links to the
more general pains of growing up.
Alliteration using the 'b' sounds suggest the swelling, painful injuries, and the child's skin are
'tender', a strong contrast to the language used to describe the nettles. The 'watery grin' is
another emotive description, implying the child is being helped to get over his painful
experience by loving parents.…read more

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Nettles are about the protection offered to a young child by a father. Harmonium is about the assistance offered by a
father to his son, although the older age of the child changes the father's role in the poem. Nettles present a father
who is violent in his desire to protect his son from the "wounds" of life. The father in Harmonium is direct and openly
discusses the time when the son might carry his father's coffin as part of a funeral service.…read more


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