Are there any literary devices in this poem?I need to analize a poem, and it needs to have two literary devices. I like this one, but I don't know if it has any literary devices. It seems like he's...

Are there any literary devices in this poem?

I need to analize a poem, and it needs to have two literary devices. I like this one, but I don't know if it has any literary devices. It seems like he's comparing cats to human behavior.

1 Answer | Add Yours

clairewait's profile pic

clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

If you have been assigned to analyze a poem strictly on its literary devices, you will not be analyzing the poetic devices (such as sound elements, rhyme, rhythm, repetition).  You should be aware however (and possibly check with your teacher) that many consider poetic devices to be viable analysis points in looking at the overall literary merit of a poem.

Because your question does not specify, let's ignore the sound elements and focus strictly on other literary elements.  You are certainly correct in your initial response that this poem compares a cat's behavior to that of a human.  Here lies the first and most primary literary devise of the poem: personification.  Essentially, this poem is an extended metaphor, showing how Rum Tum Tugger has such a complete and intense personality, that in many ways he resembles a toddler or a teenager.  Many have analyzed this poem to reflect such a comparison, while cat lovers tend to agree that such traits are also very true of many cats.

The second most prominent device which ultimately aids the extended metaphor is the use of contrast, which Elliot writes into each line.  Note the opposites which are established and lined up against each other:

  • pheasant to grouse
  • house to flat (the European word for apartment)
  • flat to house
  • mouse to rat
  • rat to mouse
  • fish to feast
  • if there is no fish he won't eat rabbit

These contrasts seem to be opposites of class (or wealth) and show that though Rum Tum Tugger at first appears to be snoody (or possibly wealthy), it turns out his likes and dislikes have nothing to do with wealth or class, but everything to do with his temperament.  He is spoiled and selfish, but not necessarily motivated by high class or wealth.

Ultimately, you could analyze this poem through these two literary devices to show a characterization of Rum Tum Tugger.

For he will do
As he do do
And there's no doing anything about it!

 

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,913 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question