The Nature of Evil in What Were They LIke and Vultures

The Nature of Evil in What Were They LIke and Vultures

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The Nature of Evil in What Were They LIke and Vultures


The two poems, 'What Were They Like' and 'Vultures' make the reader
think carefully about the nature of evil due to the use of poetic
devices by the authors Chinua Achebe and Denise Levertov, the way in
which each poem is structured and presented and also the way in which
evil is shown in each poem.

The poem 'Vultures' portrays a contrast between good and evil, it
shows how the two elements can be linked even through complete
dissimilarity. The vultures show love to one another but they are also
evil as the poet describes how they devour the human corpse. The
Commandant at Belsen shows love for his son but again, he also shows
devout evil by exterminating millions of other people's children at
the camp. In 'What Were They Like' evil is shown in a different light,
evil is shown in the sense that all of the goodness has been taken
away and now there is nothing left. It is a series of questions
followed by answers which are not fully complete.

Both poems use negative adjectives to show the nature of evil.
Examples of this from 'Vultures' are greyness, dead, broken, cold,
strange and gross. Silent, smashed, charred and bitter are only a few
examples of the many in 'What Were They Like'. The use of these
negative adjectives shows the authors disapproving opinion of the
events described in each poem. Chinua Achebe uses alliteration to9
show his feelings in phrases such as 'drizzle of one despondent' and
'Praise bounteous Providence'.

The structure of 'Vultures' is interesting; the first section
describes the love and evil shown by the vultures which is linked by
another collection of short lines to a description of the Commandant
and the way in which he shows both love and evil. The use of short,
sharp lines in the poem makes it seem more powerful.

The presentation of 'What Were They Like' is very effective. There are
six questions one after another in the first stanza followed by the
six answers in the second stanza. The poet answers the questions from

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what seems like a child's point of view, not quite fully understanding
what has happened.

Both poems are similar in the way that they are both linked by
describing evil through war and conflict. 'Vultures' is relating to
the 2nd World War extermination camp at Belsen where many innocent
children were destroyed. In the same way, 'What Were They Like'
relates to the Vietnamese War where also, many innocent children were
wiped out. This is very powerful and is shown very well in each of the
poems.
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