Gone Fishin' ("The Fish" By Elizabeth Bishop)

971 words - 4 pages

'The Fish' by Elizabeth Bishop is saturated with vivid imagery and abundant description, which help the reader visualize the action. Bishop's use of imagery, narration, and tone allow the reader to visualize the fish and create a bond with him, a bond in which the reader has a great deal of admiration for the fish's plight. The mental pictures created are, in fact, so brilliant that the reader believes incident actually happened to a real person, thus building respect from the reader to the fish.Initially the reader is bombarded with an intense image of the fish; he is 'tremendous,' 'battered,' 'venerable,' and 'homely.' The reader is sympathetic with the fish's situation, and can rel ...view middle of the document...

The word frightening does essentially the same thing in the next phrase, 'the frightening gills.' It creates a negative image of something (gills) usually considered favorable, producing an intense visual with minimal words. Another simile is used to help the reader picture the fish's struggle: 'coarse white flesh packed in like feathers.' This wording intensifies the reader's initial view of the fish, and creates a visual, again, on the reader's level.Bishop next relates to the fish on a personal basis: 'I looked into his eyes... ...I admired his sullen face, the mechanism of his jaw.' Through this intense diction, a tone of respect is produced. It is as if, for a moment, the poet descended to the fish's level, and the reader then has more respect for the fish's situation and the narrator's position regarding the fish. She described the fish's stare 'like the tipping of an object towards the light;' this very astute observation shows the reader that the poet is thinking deeply about the fish, and there is a connection made on the part of the poet. The lip 'if you could call it a lip' is the next part observed. It is described as 'grim,' 'wet,' and 'weapon-like,' giving the reader, through personification, a 'fishy' view of the creature as he actually exists. As she explains the hooks and lines caught in his lip, the reader learns that his lip has grown around the hooks, thus becoming part of the fish. These appendages hang 'like medals with their ribbons frayed and wavering,' creating the image of a hero winning many competitions or battles. This simile creates another level of respect for the fish on the part of the narrator, and following the simile is a metaphor which emphasizes the narrator's ensuing admiration for ...


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