Comment on the theme of "Hawk Roosting" by Ted Hughes.

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The key theme of this poem is the pride and arrogance of the hawk, which believes itself to be the center of the universe, the product of "the whole of Creation" and now the director of it. In the hawk's mind, every part of the natural kingdom is the way it is in order to provide "advantage to" the hawk; the whole of creation belongs to it ("mine"), and the hawk can decide what lives and what dies ("I kill where I please"). The final stanza of the poem, in particular, underlines the hawk's believe that the world moves at its whim and according to its direction: the hawk asserts that nothing has ever changed in its world under its leadership and that it will keep everything "like this," the way it is.

We can interpret the hawk in this poem as a metaphor for humanity, too. While the poem could be read as simply a commentary on the place of the hawk, the great predator, in nature, the implied criticism of the hawk's arrogant and high-handed treatment of nature (and its belief that it is a godlike figure, with everything, including the sun, "behind" it) could equally be applied to humans. Like the hawk, humanity believes itself to be at the center of creation, with every part of nature serving its purposes. Ultimately, however, this is hubristic—we cannot hope to keep things "like this" and expect to go unchallenged, because nature is not actually ours to command.

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The poem presents a first person narration of the thoughts of this great predator, the hawk. The main theme of the poem is revealed through the self-assured strength of the monologue, as the bird asserts its dominance-

 I sit in the top of the wood

Its supreme power –

I hold Creation in my foot

 and its establishment as the centre of its own world.

The main surprise to us as reader is the confidence of the hawk in its belief that it is in control, and controls all. We realise that the bird’s narrative is like our own – so similar in the perceived arrogance of its self-belief. When we consider this view from a bird we are sceptical, mocking even. It is when we begin to realise the parallels with our own egotism that we see it is humanity that is held up as conceited -

 Nothing has changed since I began.
My eye has permitted no change.
I am going to keep things like this.

 

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