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The Groundhog Essay, Research Paper

The Groundhog

In Richard Eberhart s poem The Groundhog, the speaker analyzes the death of a groundhog. The groundhog, described as lying dead and maggots eating away at its flesh, is used by the speaker to show an understanding of life. Through the metamorphosis of the dead groundhog, the speaker portrays death and its cruelty. The speaker, once filled with happiness, transforms into a state of sadness as he observes the decay of the groundhog. By using metaphors, similes and personification, the speaker perceives the slow and frightening death of the groundhog and comes to the realization that he will also die one day. The groundhog represents the fact that individuals cannot escape death and that we share the same fate as the groundhog. The speaker distinguishes the fact that one day everyone, too, will die and learns that we are all in the same position as the groundhog.

The speaker presents the poem by describing the golden fields of June to set a light, happy contrast of what can be seen in the groundhog. However, as the speaker shifts to his discovery of the dead groundhog, he discovers the meaning of the death. The speaker describes the death as a naked frailty because when we are naked, we are vulnerable, exposed, like the groundhog to the effects of death. The speaker then describes the vigorous summer to contrast the life and energy with the decay of the groundhog. As maggots consume the body of the groundhog, it changes the speaker and causes his senses to waver dim. The metaphor of the seething cauldron is used to show an image of the writhing movement of the maggots as they eat their way through the groundhog s dead body. Slowly the speaker becomes aware of the meaning of the groundhog.

The speaker, who shares a strange love with the dead animal, possesses an admiration for the groundhog because he has recognized that they both share the same fate, death. By poking him with an angry stick, the speaker personifies the senselessness of death and takes his disappointing discovery of life out on the dead animal. The speaker describes his feelings as a sunless trembling, contrasting his previous sentence of immense energy, to portray the dark sadness which he feels. He learns that death will also consume his own body and he tries to accept this fact. As he is praying for joy in the sight of death, he comes to the understanding that he shares the same future as the dead groundhog and can do nothing to stop this from happening.

Shifting to a later time in Autumn, the speaker strict of eye describes the groundhog s body as the sap gone out. All life has left the groundhog, and as it is eaten away, the bones begin to stick out through the decayed body. The speaker personifies the intellectual chains to show how he is imprisoned by his thoughts at understanding death. By being mured up in the wall of wisdom, he has concluded that death will consume him, leaving him lifeless also one day. The speaker uses similes such as beautiful as architecture and like a geometer to demonstrate the perceptions of the speaker. The speaker has now acquired a withered heart with the sight of the groundhog, dead and decayed forever. The narrator s heart, once full of life and happiness, has shrunk with the knowledge he has gained about death. Ending with an allusion to China and Greece as well as Alexander in his tent, his wild lament expresses the grief upon his discovery of life, for he shares the same fate as the decayed groundhog.

In Richard Eberhart s poem The Groundhog, we as readers notice that death shares a common bond with all individuals. Like the groundhog, we too will decay and share the same consequences as the groundhog. In the speaker s work, we come to the realization that life is filled with death and that we must accept this ongoing occurrence to advance ourselves.


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