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Last Updated September 5, 2023.


Ted Hughes's Crow: from the Life and Songs of the Crow includes characters that are deities, theological figures, and archetypes. Crow is the main character, a creator and a trickster with elements from Celtic and indigenous cosmologies, as well as the Old Testament of the Bible. A trickster, in most cultures, is an example of what not to be, and the audience learns not to follow his example. Yet he is also a comedic or ironic character for his foolishness, persistence, and belief that he is smarter than he actually is. Crow is the hero and antihero, both good and bad. This is showcased when Crow both works with and against God, causing trouble or questioning his role. Hughes uses Crow as a symbol both of the creative life force and chaos, intuition and deception, and as both a preserver and a destroyer. Crow calls into questions both the long-held values of Christianity and humanism.

The Interrogator

The Interrogator acts as a narrator for part of the poems. They are never named. They describe Crow and all the living simply by their appearance and say that they eventually lose to Death.


Death is the judge who holds Crow for trial. He is described as owning all space and being stronger than hope, love, or life. Yet elsewhere, life and Crow are both described as overcoming and outlasting Death.


God appears as having created Adam and Eve. At later points, Crow creates a series of gods that all leave his control. God is taunted by a nightmare after the Creation: a Hand and Voice kidnaps God and takes him to the earth, eventually dropping him back to heaven. He experiences fear and is not depicted as an untouchable figure. God orders the nightmare to “do better,” at which point the crow is created. 

Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve, from the Bible, both appear in the poems. At one point, Eve is portrayed as Adam's Heaven, and she is then attached to it. The fall of man, typically referring to when both Adam and Eve ate the forbidden apple, takes on a different storyline here. According to Crow, Eve allows the serpent to have sexual intercourse with her. This is a much different depiction than the storied apple’s temptation.


Crow becomes Lucifer at one point. He is described as fallen, white-colored, and an angel who tried to defeat the Sun. In some ways, he is similar to Icarus from Greek myth. Like both Lucifer and Icarus, his defeat is supposed to teach a lesson.


Elephant appears and is torn apart by hyenas who carry pieces of him to different hells. He is resurrected and remembers and learns from his mistakes.

The Hag

The Hag by the river is very elderly, and she asked Crow to carry her across. As Crow helps her across the river, she questions him about love. These questions are somewhat difficult to answer. When they reach the other side, she has become a beautiful young woman.

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