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

  • December 5, 2021
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Ted Hughes did critical analysis of love between him and his daughter and wrote “Full Moon and Little Frieda”. It is highly a symbolic poem. Its contrasting images are reason behind its popularity. Its symbols are related to the autobiography of Ted Hughes. Frieda is the name of his daughter. It depicts father and 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 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 Title of “Full Moon and Little Frieda”:

Title of the poem is highly symbolic. The poet portrays two contrasting images. First is 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. Full moon is Ted’s symbol, whereas little Frieda is his daughter that complete main theme of this poem “father and daughter relationship”.

Stanza-I Critical Analysis of “Full Moon and Little Frieda”:

The poet sets setting of poem with winter evening. There is no sound except barking of dog and clanking of bucket. He addresses his daughter Frieda “you listening to it”. Imagery created in first line of the poem pertains to sound; barking of dog and the clank of bucket. Second imagery is of “spider’s web” and that too tensed. First two images indicate attentiveness of 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. Similar scene has been depicted in this poem. Though in that age child has no awareness yet she unconsciously concentrates on the sounds.

So far as second image is concerned, it is also symbolic. Dew drops on spider’s web tense it. It shows the weakness of a child. A little drop has very less weight yet it makes the web tense. Symbolically, child is weak just like 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 star in it. When we read lines “A pail lifted, still and brimming—mirror; To tempt a first star to a tremor”, a strange sensations is felt. If we talk about symbolic meanings, reflection is actually mirror of child that is bright. It is poet’s anticipation. He is prophesying future of his child. He is imagining it and positively predicting it. Thus, there is sense of anticipation in these lines.

Stanza-II Critical Analysis “Full Moon and Little Frieda”:

Minute imagery of cows is evident from second stanza of the poem. There is further illustration of foggy breaths of cows, dark skin and the flow of blood similar to Dark River. Cows are boulder. They are moving while maintaining balance. They are keeping milk from flowing. Images of cows symbolize fragility in the child. Cows are maintaining their balance in order to keep milk flowing. Similarly, balance in life is necessary so as to avoid any tragic incident. 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, moon is a symbol. It actually is father of child i.e. Ted Hughes. Child utters the words moon! moon!; she is calling her father. It is also evident from this stanza that man [child] has been placed against the elemental forces of nature [moon].

Stanza-III Critical Analysis “Full Moon and Little Frieda”:

Last lines of the poem express 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 child’s father] has stepped back and seeing his art [symbolically Frieda].

Poem is full of symbols. It indicates the weaknesses of child, happiness of father and security for child. It also demonstrates artistic qualities of Ted Hughes. He has masterly created sensuous images. Every images is illustrated in contrast to the other one. 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 clear description of nature. For-fetched metaphors have also been used by the poet. Theme of anticipation is also evident from this poem. Themes of relationship and love are also there especially love between father and daughter and relationship between 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 critical analysis of “Full Moon and Little Frieda”.
  • Define relationship between an artist and art with critical analysis of “Full Moon and Little Frieda”
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