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Charles Lamb “Thoughtless Cruelty” Essay

Most people, at some point of their lives, have tortured inferior insects whether it be pulling the wings off a fly or crushing an ant. In the poem “Thoughtless Cruelty” by Charles Lamb the reader can see that the author is indeed angry about such a thing. The author uses the poetic devices such as diction, rhyme, and detail to describe his attitude toward those who perform such “Thoughtless Cruelty”.

The author first directs his attention to “Robert” that has “kill’d that fly”. The author then says the man was “devoid Of thought and sense” to have killed the fly. Here, the author is implying that “Robert” must have been stupid for killing the innocent creature. The author goes on talking about natural death as a bird “devours” it or a “cold blast in the night” will take its life. By describing the natural causes of the insect’s death, Lamb sympathizes for the creature because of its unnatural death. Lamb continues discussing that pain exists in even “The greatest being”, and even the “smallest ones possess” the feeling of death and pain experienced before. The author goes on with more detail in the piece about the crude humor in the creature’s horrible death.

Lamb explains, “The life you’ve taken to supply, You could not do it” that the life “Robert” has taken cannot be restored, no matter how hard he tries. The author tries to make “Robert” feel guilty by enlightening him, “A thing which no way you annoy’d – You’ll one day rue it”, suggesting that one day he will realize his cruelty and morn the death of the fly. “The bird but seeks his proper food… May just take [its life]”. Here Lamb goes into more detail about the natural death the fly may have experienced. “A life by Nature made so short, Less reason is that you for sport Should shorter make it.” Lamb again tries to weigh more guilt upon “Robert”. “Although their frame and structure less Escape our seeing,” they still experience pain and its horrors.

Though the rhyme scheme of AAAB, Charles Lamb starts to use the poetic device of rhyme to also express his attitude. In the first stanza, he talks about how “Robert, killed that “fly”, but not matter how hard he may “try” to “supply” the life he has taken, he could never “do it”. In the second stanza Lamb writes that “Robert” must have been “devoid” of thinking to have “destroy’d” the fly that he never “annoy’d”, and will one day “rue it”, expressing negativity by sympathizing for the innocent creature. The author then goes into the natural death by illustrating the bird seeking its “food”, that fate whose power “endu’d” the fly thinks the time is “good” will take “it”. Finally, the author fully expresses himself when he explains the pain “The greatest being” can have with its “flesh” that even the fly may “possess”, small and structure “less” may escape our “seeing”.

All in all, the author uses many poetic devices such as diction, detail, and rhyme to express his attitude toward, what seems tragic to the author, event. Even the title “Thoughtless Cruelty” expresses the authors feelings. Things may be different now, when you see a fly, pulling the wings off a fly may not seem the same.


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