ISC Reverie workbook answers: the dolphins – as a plea to preserve animals rights


“The Dolphins”

Question: Discuss Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘The Dolphins’ as a plea to preserve and respect animals natural rights.

Answer: Carol Ann Duffy is known for highlighting various issues – animal welfare, oppression, gender discrimination and violence in her poetry in very simple language. In her poem ‘The Dolphins’ Duffy gives voice to the oppression and cruelty  meted out to all animals. It also highlights the issue such as lack of freedom, exploitation of animals and nature and enmity between man and nature etc. In this poem the poetess draws our attention towards exploitation and captivation of animals especially dolphins from their own perspective.



       Exploitation of animals by human beings for monetary purpose is the major theme of this poem. Man exploited animals for food,entertainment and various other monetary purposes.

       Animals are used for procuring milk,flesh,eggs,leather and another animal products. They are treated with cruelty in this process. They are displaced from their habitat and kept forcefully in artificial environment. They are confined into small cages,pools  like those in zoo. Some of the animals are used in scientific experiments. The young ones are separated from their mother in order  to get milk for human consumption. This all is done by greedy human to prove his supremacy over this universe

         ‘The Dolphins’ by Duffy shows the poet’s sympathy for animals. The dolphins are confined to an artificial pool where their movements are restricted within the limitations of the pool. While they were used to swim freely in boundless ocean. This feeling of confinement make them feel that they are  not blessed anymore –

We were blessed and now we  are not blessed.”

 They are not only confined but their movements are also controlled by humans
          “There is a man and  there are hoops”.

Man for his own monetary purpose forces the dolphin’s to perform tricks with hoops and each day they are forced to balance themselves on a coloured ball.
   ” There is a coloured ball we have to balance till the man has                                                                     disappeared. “

Their lives under the control of human beings is in sharp contrast with their free days. The moon has  disappeared for them as they are always indoors. Their life has become monotonous, circling the  grooves of  water on a sound of whistle blown by human.

“The moon has disappeared. We circle well – worn grooves of water                                   on a single note.”

This loss of freedom causes pain in the  hearts of other dolphins and when they hear their mourning sound it turns it’s  own  heart into  stone.
  “Music of  loss forever from the other’s heart which turns my own                                              to stone.”
  There is no hope and what is left with  these majestic creature is a plastic toy.
       “There is a plastic toy. There is no hope.”

Originally they are clever dolphins, but after being captured and trained, they have to follow the man’s order and in order to  survive,  they have to obey him, because
There is a man and our mind knows we will die here”
  They have accepted their impending death in captivation.

        The poem, through the view point of a dolphin, reveals the sufferings and sadness in their hopeless life. The poem thus, indirectly requests human beings not to  destroy the natural habitats of animals and their lives. They have as much  right to live in their natural habitat as we humans have.

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