Mary Oliver Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 29 October 2016

Mary Oliver Rhetorical Analysis

The jellyfish, a dangerously stunning underwater creature, can adequately symbolize the phenomenon that is nature. Nobody denies the “medusa” of its attractive features, such as, its dazzling pink color, elegant frame, and most important, its transparent body that displays running electricity. However, touch it underwater and experience the wrath of its devious abilities. Its colorful stingers have the power to inject an electrical toxin into their prey. It can kill.

Furthermore, Mary Oliver, the writer of “Owls”, successfully delineates the two-faced personality nature is affiliated with. In this rich excerpt, Oliver makes it a priority to point out that nature can be both miraculous and corrupt at the same time. Like the jellyfish, nature can bring “immobilizing happiness”, but it can also be complex, and bring forth “death.”

From the get-go, Oliver uses Vonnegut-like imagery to create a distinct contrast between the “terrifying” and the fascinating parts of nature. For instance, when Oliver describes the great horned owl and the fields full of roses. According to Oliver, the great horned owl has a “hooked beak” that makes “heavy, crisp, and breathy snapping” sounds, and a set of “razor-tipped toes” that “rasp the limb.” Not only that, but this mystical creature is characterized as “merciless”, and as a dark creature that would “ eat the whole world” if it could. The fields full of roses, on the other hand, are used to symbolize happiness. They are described as sweet, lovely, and “red and pink and white tents of softness and nectar.” Through Oliver’s creative use of descriptive imagery, she begins to explain the incomprehensible mysteries of nature.

In the same fashion, Oliver uses vivid and flamboyant  diction to emphasize nature’s intricate ways. To describe the darkness of nature, Oliver uses words such as, “hopelessness”, “headless bodies”, and “immutable force”. On the contrary, for the awing parts of nature, Oliver’s passage includes words like, “exquisite”, “luminous wanderer”, and “sheer rollicking glory”. As a result, her impressive style presents a clear image of how Oliver is “standing at the edge of mystery, and ultimately, “conquered.”

Finally, Oliver uses her intimate appreciation for nature to relate to the audience and drive her claim home. First, Oliver uses an anaphora to talk about the field full of roses. Oliver begins eight consecutive phrases with the word “I.” Thus, implying the impact nature has on her as an individual, and alarming the reader of the love she has towards this prodigy. Oliver then acknowledges that “the world where the owl is endlessly hungry and endlessly on the hunt is the world in which” she lives too. Correspondingly, she mentions that nature’s curiosities involve the audience of this excerpt, as well as everyone else on planet earth.

Indeed, in this lyrical excerpt, Mary Oliver uses her impressive style to describe how nature can be convoluted, charming, and over-powering. One can’t help to acknowledge the creative way Oliver uses the English language to successfully contrast the positive and negative parts of the environment. In addition, Oliver strives to make her nuanced writing and allegory for the complexity of nature. When looking at the big picture, it is easy to see how Oliver’s writing may exhibit to all how one might share whatever it is they feel passionately about.

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  • University/College: University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 29 October 2016

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