Sunday, 19 August 2012

The Rain Horse by Ted Hughes Analysis

The Rain Horse
How the author creates mystery as well as a gloomy setting. Comment on the conflict within the short story.
Ted Hughes creates a mysterious and gloomy atmosphere from the outset, by means of the description of the valley the character is gazing upon. "Utterly deserted, shallow bare fields, black and sodden" are words used to describe the setting. The reader would wonder why this man is approaching such a desolate place and thus mystery is created while gloom is built upon by the choice of dark, emotive words in description of the valley.

The rain is clearly a factor in this story and the impact it has on the man's emotional and mental state re-inforces the reader's perception that the man is clearly at conflict with a natural force, the rain. The author's negative choice of words when describing the rain and anything it touches expands upon the feeling of gloom present in this short story. "The distance had vanished in a wall of grey. All around him the fields were jumping and screaming." and words such as "icy rain on his bare skull" lacks any form of euphemism and thus creates a gloomy, if not hostile.

The sudden change of the man's mental state and his emotions over a short space of time by only rain draw comparison to a man suffering from the stress and is on the verge of a mental collapse.  "He looked back at it coldly" "felt nothing but the dullness of feeling nothing. Boredom." but the man then feels impatient and anxious and then subsequently "A wave of anger went over him: anger against himself" - "and anger against the land". These few quotes allow the reader an intimate view of this man's mental thought and the effortless influence the rain has over him. This expands on the conflict in the story and thus the reader notices the man's conflict with oneself too.

The introduction of the horse and its description of its movement as that of another animal, "... on its toes, like a cat, like a dog up to no good" creates mystery since toes refer to humans while dog-like and cat-like movements for a horse are mysterious. The apparent reference to human toes might foreshadow events to come in which the horse acts and thinks as a human. "... nightmarish leopard." is another negative, emotive word that the reader now associates the horse with a nightmare.

Ted Hughes further expands upon mystery by the use of unnatural behaviour by the horse. Describing what a horse should be doing as it cowers from the rain and then having this horse behave unnaturally is mysterious and builds up tension. The description of the horse in a calm yet intent manner is unsettling to both the reader and the man and subsequently the apparent 'stalking of the man' by the horse is downright odd. The man asks himself  "Was it clairvoyant. Maybe a mad animal can be clairvoyant?" This absurd question by this man draws suspicion to the man's state of mind yet again. 

"At the same time he was ashamed to find himself acting so insanely, ducking and creeping..." creates irony when "He tried to imagine how anybody in their senses would just walk off home." and thus we expect some sense of rationality to return to this man yet the text goes against what we expect and we find the man at conflict the man at conflict with this horse.

"The ordeal with the horse had already sunk from reality." This expands upon the mysterious feel to the story and the author's reference to the grey water being rung out of the clothes' and "as if some important part had been cut out of his brain" further draws reference to the man's mental state. The reader gets the feeling that this man has or is about to lose his mind and might have lost the ability to separate reality from his imagination. This culminates in the reader perceiving the horse as a mere figment of an insane man's imagination and the point to which the grey rain and loneliness can drive one to.

I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this short story. Please leave them as a comment below.

24 comments:

  1. Hey!! thanks a MILLION, your blog is a great revision before the exams.

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  2. Thanks for reading... Glad I could help out. Hope exams go well!

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  3. we, as a class, not sure if the horse is an illusion created by the man, or it is real. have ideas about the first possibility, but what does the horse (and its strange behaviour) stand for if the horse is real?

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  4. all of a sudden he crawls to save himself and then the stones he throws suddenly comes under great guidance... is it that this incident led him to access his past experiences and unlock his hidden capabilities?

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  5. hope it helps with my exams

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  6. Christopher Bell7 March 2013 at 23:50

    The horse subtextually is regarding all walks of nature, hence why parts of its bodies are described as paws etc. Therefore the story could be about man vs nature. Hope this helps

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  7. very nice
    thanks alot

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  8. That is one way you can look at it... Since he is returning to his homeland from events unknown to us.
    For all we know, he could be returning from war, being deranged and mentally scarred.

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  9. what does the horse symbolize? the inner world in a man?

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  10. awesome work. though i hate lit. i have to do it for exams. Thanks a ton.

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  11. is the horse real or an illusion

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  12. i hope it helps me in my exams..
    :/

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  13. thanks a lot for this analysis I think I can now pass the test

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  14. overall good analysis of the story, however you didn't try to discover any of mysteries or reveal the real identity of the horse. it was so obvious that the horse was a symbol of the nature hatred which grew against the man over time, for what the man had did to the nature the past years. As well as the rain was a mere weapon, which the nature had used to firstly alarm the man that he is not welcomed once again in the nature, as the man had abandoned the nature years ago, escaping to the new technological world of comfort and splendor he had crafted; letting the nature to agony alone.Secondly, as the man refused to positively respond to the warning, the rain grew intenser, becoming more thick and dull, in an attempt to demonstrate the new power the nature had acquired, which is the Dark power; as everything was grey, dull and somber with no sparkle of hope or a beam of light visible, it clearly shows how the nature had transformed and adopted the power of evil, to acquire it's revenge from the man, who betrayed it before. The green fields and the bushy meadows had all burned in ashes and washed away by the thik mud which was overflowing everywhere. Apparently, the man was endeavoring to restore the old peaceful relationship between him and the nature, however the nature rejected the offer the very moment the man strode in the nature's province, only allowed him to show off it's new dark power, as a clue that the nature doesn't need the sympathy and man's mercy and it's never been waiting for it.

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  15. stupid agni the horse symbolizes u. ur the black horse.

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  16. http://englit10ig.blogspot.in/2013/03/rain-horse.html

    He's copied yours, you might want to look into that

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  17. Thanks for the heads up. Really do appreciate it

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  18. got to do an essay on this for exams, thanks a lot pal. (-;

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  19. i think the horse can be a metaphor for a traumatic event. like this man returns to this place. maybe the horse is the resurfacing of a suppressed trauma that attacks him and the man thus combats his past. ._.

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  20. Zachary Johnson11 May 2014 at 20:14

    No, man, you have to use the quote "The ordeal with the horse had already sunk from reality." with PEE to prove that the horse actually symbolises the man's own fears in his torn mental state. (Perhaps) the man's own fears manfest in the demonic imagery of the Horse.

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  21. the horse symolises the man problems and show the reader how the man isnt supposed to hide from his problems and face them because problems get bigger and bigger once you try to run and you can never get away

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  22. is the horse part of the mans imagination or a real horse?

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  23. The horse is an existential entity. Whether it is physical or ethereal is dependent on the interpretation.

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