The poem “To Flush, My Dog” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the leaflet of RSPCA are two writings exploring the same theme - dog and the treatments by their owners. Elizabeth elaborates her relationship with her dog while the RSPCA document articulates the problems facing some unfortunate dogs. The feeling expressed and the use of language devices shares some similarities albeit one is a poem and the other comprise articles from an animal caring organization. Similarities, differences and significance of them will be discussed in this essay.
The poem is clearly a praise of the writer’s beloved dog while the RSPCA documents aim to appeal for donation. The poem is made of 20 stanzas of 6 lines each and strongly portraits a very dear and noble aura to share her love for the dog. The RSPCA document adopts a candid manner in the form of writing a letter to the prospective donors supplemented by two touching stories. The three articles contentiously try to gain sympathy from the readers. With this underlying aim, the RSPCA inspector uses alarming hard figure (6,982 abused animals a year) to arouse readers’ attention. He also uses repeated strong words, ‘battered, tormented and abandoned’ to give an awakening insight for his readers on the seriousness of the cruelty. The use of the rhetorical question “Will you give me the resources I need to fight this rising tide of cruelty?” is very effective.
There is impacting contrast on the cares of dogs. Elizabeth treats Flush nicely and gently. As described in stanza 16, she feeds Flush sugared milk, puts pretty collar on it and pats the dog to please it. The physical affection from the owner is abundant with proper shelter, delicious food and interaction. On the contrary, Poppy and Trio, both rescued by RSPCA, are unfortunate. Both dogs are very young at 4 months and one day old respectively. After messing the room, Trio was grabbed and squeezed by its owner. “It was thrown across the room with full force and smashed against a cupboard”. (Line 9-11) Poppy was even flushed into the toilet by its owner.
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In RSPCA documents, it focuses on the cruel treatments of Poppy and Trio by their owners. Trio is “petrified and injured” by its owner (Line 12 in “Trio Story”). They have a very bad relationship. Although there was food and shelter for Trio, there was no trust between them. The dog had to “crawl away and hide under a cot” (Line 13). Trio’s reaction makes us feel very sorry. In the pathetic story of Poppy, his owner doesn’t want it only after one day. (Animal like these needs your support NOW). Readers easily notice the problem and are moved by the visual details when the dog was found along the drainage. “Simply flushes you down the toilet” (line 3-4) shows that the owner didn’t show any humanitarian feeling to Poppy at all. To Poppy, there was no food and proper shelter. The two stories present powerful visual effect by describing details of the maltreatment. It effectively strengthens the appeal for helping the animals.
On the other hand, Flush is Elizabeth’s best friend. It sits beside her when she is sick (Stanza 7 line 2 & 6). When Elizabeth is crying with “one or two quick tears” and “signing”, “Flush sprang in eager haste in a tender haste.”(Stanza 11) It gives Elizabeth love by being tender and affectionate. These lines allude the mutual love between Flush and its owner. It delivers an authentic illustration of a dog’s human nature.
This nature is shared by the RSPCA’s volunteers who give the dogs warm and comfortable shelters with loving care around the clock. “Devoted care round the clock pulled Poppy back from brink” (line 15-16). They resemble Elizabeth’s kindness to animals.
The language devices of the two documents share similarities and differences. Both documents use emotive languages and repetition for effect. In RSPCA leaflet, words like “struggle”, “death”, and “tender”, “pathetic and “devoted” are used. The repetition suggests the writers’ sympathy towards these dogs and dramatizes the effect. The readers will be sorry and start thinking about animals ‘maltreatments.’ In the poem about Flush, words like “benediction”, “wishing weal”, “supportive” are used. This gives effect of how important of the dog to Elizabeth. The word “benediction” reiterates that its owner regards it as a gift from god.
The differences in language of the two are the use of metaphors and alliteration. In stanza 2 of Flush poem, “silver-suited” is used to describe the appearance of Flush. This alliteration decides the color of the fur as very appealing and gorgeous-looking. It also suggests the softness of the fur and the joy and comfort it gives Elizabeth. In stanza 11, “fawning, fondling” is another example of alliteration which is used to describe when the writer is sad, Flush tries to please her. The language devices powerfully symbolize how affectionate and tender Flush is. The leaflet of RSPCA do not use much alliteration and metaphors.
The structures of two passages are very different. The RSPCA leaflet is in passage form and language is quite informal. Unlike the poem, there are no rhyming words and use of archaic words. The free style writing allows the writers to convey its main messages to the reader more easily. The Flush poem on the other hand, has frequent use of rhyming words and also archaic words “thee” to make the poem more poetic. Examples are plenty throughout the entire poem, like ‘one, run’ and ‘nature, creature in stanza 1 and ‘height, delight, line and thine’ in the last stanza The rhyming words create a musical effect which attracts reader’s attention.
Although the two documents look at the theme of treatments of dogs in different perspectives, both successfully achieve their goals in a high literary standard. Structures and the use of language features share some similarities and yet there are differences. They adopt brilliant ways of articulating their ideas, and effectively induce empathy and sympathy from their readers. We can deeply feel admiration to the poem protagonist – Flush and also arouse pity to the miserable tortured animals in the RSPCA leaflet.
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