Vultures By Chinua Achebe

In depth analysis of Vultures with links to poems that involve the same themes

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Vultures by Chinua Achebe
Ambiguous title: the physical being or a character flaw.
Even though the title suggests otherwise this poem explores the oddity of finding evil and love in the
same place being carried out by the same being.
At the start of the first stanza there is a description of the setting, `greyness', `drizzle'.
This is an example of PATHETIC FALLACY, where the weather indicates the mood. (So happy
emotions would be a sunny day, sad ones would be raining.)
This is good to mention in the exam as it shows a higher level of understanding than just saying the
weather sets the mood.
`Dawn unstirred by Harbingers'. Harbingers are an omen of something bad to happen...setting the
tone for the poem.
Following this we have a dark/horrible description to do with the Vultures:
`perching high on broken bone of a dead tree' This one line can be looked at quite deeply. Perching
high depicts the scavenger within the vulture. Waiting for its prey, waiting to pounce.
Broken bone; the alliteration here sounds like the chanting of a witch (bubble bubble, toil and
trouble). This conveys evil. ALSO they are PLOSIVE sound (Emphasis on the B of the word which in
turn emphasises the whole word.)
`bashed-in head', `gross feathers', `picked the eyes of a swollen corpse', `ate the things in its
bowel', `hollowed remnant';
1. These words show a SEMANTIC FIELD OF DEATH (a semantic field is a series of word that
relate to a certain topic...this topic being death).
2. disturbing imagery. Sick/twisted. No hint of happiness or joy.
It is DESPONDENT (miserable/depressing).
`Inclined affectionately' a cute image of love. Amdist all the horror and gore.
`easy range of cold telescopic eyes' although this refers to the Vulture, it sounds very mechanical
and much like a gun. Metallic, LIFELESS.
This links to the 3rd stanza.
The 2nd stanza. Tells of the strangeness of love, that it could enter a charnel-house (place for dead
bodies) and happily stay there and turn its back on the horror (`coil up there, perhaps even fall
asleep- her face turned to the wall!'). This too links to the next stanza
WW2, genocide. Mass killings.
The Commandant at Belsen is said to go home with `fumes of human roast clinging rebelliously to his
hairy nostrils' this is a link to the Vultures, a parallel to the description in the first paragraph.
After coming home from the concentration camp, after killing/murdering 1000s of innocent people
he stops by and buys his child some chocolate. (this links with the affectionate incline of the vulture
towards his mate)

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Final stanza sounds almost a plea. `Praise bounteous providence' this is basically addressing the
goodness of God.
`grants even an ogre a tiny glow worm tenderness encapsulated in icy caverns of a cruel heart' This
is conveying the idea that even such monsters like ogres can have some good in them.…read more


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