Analysis of the poem "The Gun"

To read the poem first, click here.


"The Gun" by Vicki Feaver portrays the consequences of empowering a man with a deadly weapon. It can be deduced from just the title of the poem that it will be talking about the noun in focus and since it is a short phrase - The Gun - it has more of an abrupt impact on the reader.

The former hypothesis is confirmed and reiterated in the very first stanza.  It bluntly states that bringing a gun into a house changes it. It is key to note at this point the irregular lengths of the stanzas. Perhaps this shows the incoherence of the thought process of the voice and thus might be the reason why the protagonist is his own antagonist. This type of structure might also aid the poem in giving it a more narrative structure. Also, the short line lengths create a sense of urgency to the entire situation and sets a progressive mood to the entire poem - the thoughts of the voice don't linger on the dreadful actions that he does.

Feaver has used an interesting approach to tackle the issue at hand. She starts the poem from the point that the voice brings the gun to the house so the reader matures with the voice in a sense. We are made known of his thought process and the causations behind his actions - however unjustifiable they may be. Another interesting thing I noted as a reader is that the longest stanza in the entire poem (#2) was entirely dedicated to the gun; thus showing its significance to the voice. An interesting use of colours and symbolism has been used here: "...casting a grey shadow on a green checked cloth". The colour grey has connotations of gloominess, somberness and death whereas green represents livelihood, pasture and well-being in general. The presence of the gun causes death to cast a shadow over the livelihood of the innocent.

It is a very primitive desire of men to be in power and control. Some might argue that is is an evolutionary advantage; perhaps the reason why homo-sapiens won the survival of the fittest and now dominate the food chain. But this poem exploits that very nature of man. The revitalised power that the gun has given the voice has caused him to go from "just practice" to having a "fridge filled with creature". An interesting simile is used at this point: "...eyes gleam like when sex was fresh". Again, overtly portrays our animalistic and primitive desire showing us that our reptilian cortex (part of brain responsible for primal desires) can perhaps overdrive our higher thinking when suddenly introduced to so much power thus making the voice almost as animalistic as the creatures he kills.

Finally, Feaver makes use of dramatic irony. The phrase "A gun brings a house alive" is a stanza by itself. This creates a dramatic effect by setting a new and slower pace to the poem. The irony lies in the fact that the sole purpose of a gun is to kill but the voice claims it brings the house alive. This can be interpreted as the confusion the voice faces because of how overwhelmed he is or alternatively, the house is more alive than it previously was since it contains more creatures; albeit dead.

Towards the end, the voice calls himself "King of Death", personifying the word "Death". This gives identity to the abstract concept of death, almost as if the voice is endearing and embracing it and thus mimicking the personality of death - which is to kill. For no cause or reason.

Simply to kill. That is what he has become by the end. The King of Death.

Analysis of the poem "The Gun" Analysis of the poem "The Gun" Reviewed by Big Bause on 03:25:00 Rating: 5

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