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The Dead Kitty in Ode on the Death of a Favorite Cat (Favourite)
Gray's "Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes" is a story of a curious cat that ends up in Purrgitory (ha ha). Gray uses not only formalistic literary devices, but he also uses dialog. As Gray speaks to the reader, he uses word choice and allusions to convey the correlation between women and cats.
Word choice plays a major roll in this poem, due to the fact that it helps set up allusion and other literary devices. Word choice also helps bring out the theme of relating women to cats with such phrases as "The hapless nymph with wonder saw:"(Gray 19) Nymphs are demigods, that are associated with nature and beauty. There is a second reference to nymphs, "No Dolphin came, no Nereid stirr'd:.."(Gray 34) Nereid is a sea nymph. One of the best parts in the poem is when Gray is describing the cat. "Her conscious tail her joy declar'd; The fair round face, the snowy beard, The velvet paws, Her coats, that with the tortoise vies, Her ears of jet, and emerald eyes,"(Gray 7- 11) This is great example of word choice and description. Gray also uses the word choice to create the atmosphere of grandeur.
Gray shows this form of word choice when he is describing the flowers in the first stanza, "The azure flowers,…"(Gray 3) He could have simply said the blue flowers, but by using this first form he is alluding to something greater. In the second stanza when he is describing the cat, he seems to also be describing women. Gray at this point is talking about how the cat move, especially it's tail. One of the main things that draws people's attention to a women is how they move, cats have the same attribute. Another allusion in the story is dealing with gold objects. "What female's heart can gold despise? What Cat's averse to fish?" (Gray 23-24) This refers to the desire that women have for jewelry and other expensive things. Compared to the desire of the cat for the gold fish. "Their scaly armour's Tyrian hue throughout richest purple to the view betray'd a golden gleam."(Gray 16-18) Gray is making a reference to the city of Tyre, which is famous for making purple dye, which Kings used for their royal colors.
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Repetition of colors, gems, and light are scattered throughout the poem. The cat is described as having emerald eyes. While describing the fish Gray says that through the richest purple, they give off a golden gleam. Gold is one of the main points to this poem. This leads us, the reader, to the last line which gives the underlying message of the poem. It becomes apparent in the last stanza that the author is addressing the reading audience on a subject mater that is of more meaning then just a drowning cat. "From hence ye beauties, undeceiv'd, Know, one false step is ne'er retriev'd, And be with caution bold, Not all that tempts your wand'rig eyes and heedless hearts is lawful prize, Nor all that glisters, gold."(Gray 37-42) This stanza serves as a warning, that what you are seeking may not always be what you end up with. In the cats case it wanted a quick meal, all it ended up with was a trip to the backyard in an old Nike box.
Gray uses dialog and literary devices to convey the correlation between women and cats. Word choice, allusions, and repetition define this similarity the best. The poem also has a moral, some things that you want, may not end up the way you want them to end.