Analysis Of Elizabeth Bishop's Poem "The Fish"

462 words - 2 pages

"The Fish" by: Elizabeth Bishop* The Theme of 'True' Beauty or 'Inner' Beauty:Neither her battered boat nor the "venerable" old fish is beautiful in conventional terms. Their beauty lies in having survived, & when the speaker realizes this, "victory filled up / the little rented boat" & she understands that "everything / was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!" That is when she lets the fish return to his home in the water. The fish helps Bishop to notice true beauty: "The fish is only ugly or grotesque to the untrained or unempathic eye" (McCabe). ...view middle of the document...

The composite image of the fish's essential beauty--his being alive--is developed further in the description of the 5 fishhooks that the captive, living fish carries in his lip.* The Theme of Respect & Admiration:The admiration for the fish is ironic since he was detested when 1st caught. The relationship tween the fish & Bishop becomes even closer when she notices his lip. These broken fishing lines are the turning point tween her & the fish. Now, Bishop considers the catch an accomplishment. She sees evidence that 5 others have tried unsuccessfully to bring in this fish. The fish evolves into a majestic character She is able to use the description of the fish's lip to evoke the idea of respect. The fish's "beard" personifies him, characterizing him as intelligent. She values the fish because she realizes he has eluded other anglers. The ultimate respect is expressed w/ the fish's release. Bishop knows the fish "...can't be kept, but must be let go" (McCabe). Bishop recognizes that she will be able to hold the moment closer as a memory than by keeping the fish as a trophy. The real theme of Bishop's poem is that of humanitarianism & respect for a fish's lifelong will to survive.

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