ISC Reverie the Dolphins : message conveyed by the poem


‘The Dolphins’

Question: What  message does the poet want to convey to the readers through the poem “The Dolphins”?
Explain the line “There is a constant flowing guilt.”

Answer:  “The Dolphins ” is written by Carol Ann Duffy with the purpose to protect against human cruelty towards animals and nature.

          Duffy uses the technique of dramatic monologue to present the perspective of a dolphin who is confined to a pool with restricted movements. She wants the readers to understand the pain of confinement and lack of freedom perceived by these mute creatures. She wants us to know how badly, we humans are treating other animals for our own entertainment or monetary purpose. This kind of action from man,  may eventually lead to a destruction of nature and it’s ecosystem.

              By means of ‘The Dolphins’ the poet shows that the dolphins are exploited , trapped and transported from their home. They are confined and socially isolated from other dolphins. They are forced to perform tricks at the order of a man. The poem through the view point of a dolphin, reveals the sufferings and sadness in their hopeless life. Thus the poem gives the message to all human beings that

     “The Animals too are a part of nature like us and therefore, deserve our respect and right to remain in the world, free from harassment and harm.” 

There is a man and there are hoops
                   There is a constant flowing guilt.”

In the above lines the dolphin tells about its confinement and control by a man with hoops.  The dolphins who were used to swim in and live in a vast ocean are now confined in a small pool where their  movements are restricted.  Although they are in their element, which is water, where they can breathe and survive but they are not free. Here the dolphin is not talking about only physical restrictions but mental restrictions also. They are not only kept in a small pool but also they are forced to perform tricks like jumping over the hoops and balancing the ball on their nose they have to act according to the instructions of ” a man with hoops. ” This shows the control and  and  superiority of a human over the non human, mute creatures.

    The dolphin constantly feels guilty as it is  confined to a pool. Most probably,  the man who is there to regulate their movements in the pool as a part of performing tricks to entertain people ,makes them feel guilty if they do something wrong or can’t perform well.

       Maybe the dolphin feels guilty as it feels it has not been clever enough to escape and have been caught by humans and kept here in such restricted space .

       From another point of view the expression – ‘a constant flowing guilt’ also suggest that the poet herself feels guilty that we,the humans are treating the animals so badly.

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