What are similarities between "A Case of Murder" by Vernon Scannell and "The Jaguar" by Ted Hughes?

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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These two poems, "A Case of Murder," by Vernon Scannell, and "The Jaguar" by Ted Hughes are very different poems.

"A Case of Murder" is reminiscent of Poe's "The Black Cat" and "The Tell-tale Heart," and "The Jaguar" impresses me of the caged cat at the zoo, with the power and elegance of a massive, caged thing that knows no limits, no boundaries. Though the bars may contain the beast, they cannot contain his spirit. He seems to find the cage nothing but a detail as the sun rises and sets; in his heart, the jaguar is still a cat and the animal's spiritual essence cannot be stifled by mere bars.

On the other hand, in "A Case of Murder," the cat is murdered by the child. At first the poem takes on a humorous tone, as if it is mimicking The Cat in the Hat. The animal is watching him, hating him; while the child watches the cat, hating it as well. The confrontation is a surprise to the child. It starts with a suddenness that stuns the boy. The animal's death is something he is unprepared for. The boy is empowered for a moment, and then he cries like the child he is. He knows he must dispose of the animal quickly. So he takes it and buries it in the closet...where it grows louder each year. The purr, like Poe's "heart," continues to haunt the boy.

However, the jaguar is too mighty for humankind, while the cat is no match for the humanity of the child.


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