Critical Analysis of “Full Moon and Little Frieda” | Ted Hughes

Critical Analysis of “Full Moon and Little Frieda” Ted Hughes

Ted Hughes did a critical analysis of the love between him and his daughter and wrote “Full Moon and Little Frieda”. It is highly a symbolic poem. Its contrasting images are the reason behind its popularity. Its symbols are related to the autobiography of Ted Hughes. Frieda is the name of his daughter. It depicts a father-daughter relationship. Perhaps, Ted’s everlasting love for his daughter makes this poem extra delightful. Though he has written many other poems with great interest; some of them are remarkable but this poem has a charm of its own. He calls it his favourite poem.

Click here to read “Full Moon and Little Frieda” instead of its critical analysis.

Critical Analysis of the Title of “Full Moon and Little Frieda”

The title of the poem is highly symbolic. The poet portrays two contrasting images. The first is the moon and the second is Frieda. Moon is a huge image whereas his daughter little Frieda is a small image. In this way, both these images are contrasting symbolically and entirely opposite to each other. The full moon is Ted’s symbol, whereas little Frieda is his daughter the complete main theme of this poem “father and daughter relationship”.

Stanza 1 Critical Analysis of “Full Moon and Little Frieda”

The poet sets the setting of the poem as a winter evening. There is no sound except the barking of a dog and the clanking of a bucket. He addresses his daughter Frieda “you listening to it”. Imagery created in the first line of the poem pertains to sound; the barking of a dog and the clank of a bucket. The second imagery is of a “spider’s web” and that is too tense. The first two images indicate the attentiveness of the child. When the child hears them, she concentrates. For instance, when a bell is rung in front of a child, she stops crying and concentrates on its sound. A similar scene has been depicted in this poem. Though at that age child has no awareness yet she unconsciously concentrates on the sounds.

So far as the second image is concerned, it is also symbolic. Dew drops on the spider’s web made it tense. It shows the weakness of a child. A little drop has very less weight yet it makes the web tense. Symbolically, the child is weak just like a spider’s web and a tiny harm to the child can tense her.

The poet creates another imagery. A bucket full of water and the reflection of a star in it. When we read the lines “A pail lifted, still and brimming—mirror; To tempt a first star to a tremor”, a strange sensation is felt. If we talk about symbolic meanings, reflection is actually a mirror of the child that is bright. It is the poet’s anticipation. He is prophesying the future of his child. He is imagining it and positively predicting it. Thus, there is a sense of anticipation in these lines of the poem.

Stanza 2 Critical Analysis “Full Moon and Little Frieda”

Minute imagery of cows is evident in the second stanza of the poem. There is a further illustration of the foggy breaths of cows, dark skin and the flow of blood similar to Dark River. Cows are boulders. They are moving while maintaining balance. They are keeping milk from flowing. Images of cows symbolise fragility in the child. Cows are maintaining their balance in order to keep the milk flowing. Similarly, balance in life is necessary so as to avoid any tragic incident. The child is weak. She needs care. Dark skin and stones are symbols of danger. Blood is the symbol of rareness. We can witness anthropomorphism in this stanza. Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities. In this case, these non-human entities are cows. It may be considered an innate tendency of human psychology.

“you cry suddenly, ‘Moon! Moon!’”.

As discussed above, the moon is a symbol. It actually is the father of the child who is Ted Hughes. The child utters the words moon! moon! She calls her father. It is also evident from this stanza that man [child] has been placed against the elemental forces of nature [moon].

Stanza 3 Critical Analysis “Full Moon and Little Frieda”

The last lines of the poem express a view of an artist. “The moon has stepped back like an artist gazing amazed at a work”. Imagine a painter. When he completes a painting, he takes a step back and observes his work minutely. Similarly, the moon [symbol of the child’s father] steps back and sees his art [symbolically Frieda].

The poem is full of symbols. It indicates the weaknesses of the child, the happiness of the father and the security of the child. It also demonstrates the artistic qualities of Ted Hughes. He has masterly created sensuous images. Every image is illustrated in contrast to the other. The pictorial qualities of Ted Hughes are wonderful.

Ted Hughes is the greatest fan of Geoffrey Chaucer. He knows how to make pen pictures of natural objects. There is a clear description of nature. For-fetched metaphors have also been used by the poet. The theme of anticipation is also evident in this poem. Themes of relationship and love are also there especially love between father and daughter and the relationship between an artist and his art. It is rare to find such freedom of line accompanied by appropriateness and inevitability so that it seems to have a form as tight as a sonnet. It follows the technique of onomatopoeia. In short, themes, symbols, writing style and perfect images make this poem favourite of Ted Hughes.

Related Questions:

  • Write a critical analysis of “Full Moon and Little Frieda”.
  • Define the relationship between an artist and art with a critical analysis of “Full Moon and Little Frieda”