Examining Literary Devices in Kevin Halligan’s Poem the Cockroach

May 6, 2021 by Essay Writer

Explore how the words of The Cockroach vividly convey the situation of Kevin Halligan. Support your answer with details from the poem.

Kevin Halligan uses intricate sequencing of words and language devices to make his situation realistic and meaningful in ‘The Cockroach’. The main idea he is tries to convey is that karma is present in his life, “every action has an equal an opposite reaction,” by this acknowledging how diligent you must be while performing actions as the action may come back to haunt you or as he states by allusion, in afterlife. Such ways include an increasing tone in the text by sonorous devices like of as the result of rhymes, as if to show the precessions of events leading up to another or by including the illusion of time which at first may not be caught sight of but with close inspection in context, it will be found. Others like allusive devices are used to capture the reader’s interests, also.

Halligan having used sonorous devices, he makes the reader feel the pressure and too of the stress he is portrayed to have in the poem. He uses rhythmic sounds at the conclusion of lines of the poem ‘, Pace, floor, trace, door; rings, back, wings, attack,’ to introduce the uneasy/grotesque feeling as if to foreshadow an upcoming event. Although the foreshadowing conveyed by the words is meaningful in addressing the situation of fear and anxiety of Halligan, another effect can be found, that is the pumping of the heart, the rhymes create a pulsing precession that is distinctive to the organ, a life source linking to the idea of a lifetime. Both in an anatomical sense and symbolic one the cockroach has no heart, the cockroach breaths through its skin and insects are understood as by reincarnation believers to be vile creatures, the words of rhyme indirectly allowing the reader to inquire about the mind state of Halligan repetitively supporting the tension, and with common knowledge by the reader’s part showing that although with such a defence Halligan acknowledges the cockroach to have it’s own share of vulnerability, just like he does.

Time is vital in conveying the situation of Halligan as showing the manipulation of it induces a feeling of stasis of both subjects in the text, the cockroach and Halligan.

To convey the time dilation Halligan employs the cockroach as made to be an indecisive being but as if too logically reasoning on what next step to take through it’s life, ‘Circling the rusty table.’ He also attempts to acknowledge using first person singular subjected statements that permit the reader to wonder or question more of the reality, which they live in, creating an effect of sympathy, and to empathy in prolonged thought of the reader, ‘I watched a giant cockroach start to pace.’ Doing this he shows that even high-end beings like humans in contrast with cockroaches in the beliefs of reincarnation are sometimes misguided, have questions and that getting a plausible life out of the time we have is going to take a long time, ‘Except I thought I recognized myself.’

Halligan having used allusion in the poem in conjunction with sound devices and time expressions he further backs up his thoughts of culture and/or religion reincarnation pertains to, to which the reader may relate to. Halligan uses the basic concept of karma and the rippling effect an action can cause that can surpass lifetimes, ‘was this payment for a vicious crime.’ With such careful hints like this the reader can reflect upon his or her life, relating to the good and bad deeds they have done or cause the reader to consider such thing of karma too and how much others have been affected by them, this was is clearly shown in ‘The Cockroach’ to be one the Halligan’s main objective/theme.

As the reader has probably been made aware of there are many potentials of ideas in the text, or in other words many lessons that can be learned from this poem, that is the point, the objective is to tap into the sympathetic mindset of the reader. Truly, with the following overarching tools: time expressions, sonorous devices and allusive devices, Halligan achieves great portrayal of Karma as a theme allowing the text to be memorable and meaningful to the reader in such a way that the reader himself/herself can relate to the text, and as the result of this, conveying the situation Halligan; finding the right path through life.

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