Mosquito By John Updike Essay Research Paper

Mosquito By John Updike Essay, Research Paper

The Mosquito By John Updike This poem by Updike describes an ordinarily dull and

bland, if not even annoying pest and one of his dealings with such a creature.

This pest is of course a mosquito, which seems to have made its way into his

bedroom, looking to make a meal out of him. The main point that I think this

poem is trying to convey is that sometimes ordinary or dull occurrences can be

made into a game, and had fun with. No one likes mosquitoes, but when you think

of one as an opponent and it is either kill, or be killed, then you can

understand the mosquito?s point of view. The speaker, who is Updike himself,

seems to want to convey a melancholy affect with the use of his nonchalant

language, as when he makes the mosquito a woman. Who knows, or even cares what a

mosquito is, when it is bugging you, you just want it dead. Which is what he

wants, but the tone remains laid back and lazy. It almost has a sarcastic or

ironic twinge to it. It makes this huge melodrama out of something that is quite

ordinary. Yet he professes the mosquito?s innocence of wrongdoing. All she

wanted was a necessary meal, lest she die, she had to drink of his ?fragrant

lake of blood.? The diction of the poem is just wonderful and spectacular.

When he says ?fine wire of her whine she walked,? we all know that he is

describing how a mosquito hums along and winds through the air, with no direct

course, but the picture it creates in your mind is very clear. When he uses

?ominous? in the second line, it foreshadows some deep, dark thing to come.

The word fragrant in the second stanza reveals that the mosquito probably cannot

see him, but only smells his delicious blood, as one smells a home cooked meal

from one?s bedroom, down the hall. When he describes himself as a ?lavish

field of food,? the word lavish jumps out at you. Once again saying that she

in fact did not want to hurt anyone, but only to feast on this wonderful meal

before her. He compares himself with her as if they were raging in some game or

battle; he calls them ?opponents.? He uses ?thread? and ?fine wire?

to describe her movement, almost as if she were a puppet. He gives her human

characteristics by saying she has a ?nose,? and saying that she was

?thankful.? He says his death movement was ?cunning and strong,? as if

it took some great skill to kill a mosquito. He describes himself as a ?Gargantua,?

as if to say that his opponent never really had a chance. He describes his skin

as a ?feast,? reinforcing the fact that she was only out to get a meal. She

was ?Lulled? by his blood, as if it had sung her a lull-a-by, as if his

blood was a self-defense mechanism, to put to sleep those who would attack him.

The only remorse he had was a ?small welt,? and a welt is a small enough

thing in its self, I mean, its not a bruise or anything, and a small welt, well,

that?s hardly a welt at all. He describes himself as a ?murderer? and the

mosquito as ?murdered,? because she was, in fact, innocent of any

wrongdoing. All that she was doing was getting herself a meal, and he had killed

her for it. There is much great imagery in this poem. To start off with, when he

describes the flight of the mosquito as walking on a fine wire, we actually see

this insect walking on a fine wire, and can see that to be true in our minds

from past experiences. The mosquito?s camouflage is obviously darkness, and

when she betrays this, she does so with the hum of her wings, or her voice as in

line 3. All that he was to her was a ?fragrant lake of blood.? This helps to

put the reader in the shoes of the mosquito. All that she saw was like, to us,

this big lake of coke. What crime is it to go and take a few gulps of the coke

lake then? Once again, he compares his body to a big pile of delicious food.

Just imagine your favorite food. Now imagine Shasta Lake drained, and filled

with this food. This is what she sees. Now imagine that you are about to die

from starvation. As her ?nose sank thankfully in,? as if she did not get it

she would die. Would you jump into the Shasta Lake size bowl filled with life

giving food? He describes his deadly action as if he were some mighty warrior,

?cunning and strong.? He sees himself as this big, strong, superior being,

which of course he is, but he just got you feeling all sad and sorry for the

poor little mosquito. He describes her as a ?lover,? furthering your pity

for this poor insect. He describes how his blood had almost seduced her, so that

he could murder her in the end. He had killed her so ruthlessly, and efficiently

that he was almost proud. You can imagine him swallowing his ?small welt of

remorse? like a lump in his throat. In the last line you picture him with his

arm around a dead loved one, sleeping peacefully, which is what he wants you to

think, but, suddenly, you realize, it was only a mosquito. There are no similes

in this poem, but many metaphors. Updike compares the mosquito to many things:

?a traitor to her camouflage, A thirsty blue streak, an anchor, a lover, a

fleck of fluff upon the sheet,? and finally, ?the murdered.? He also uses

many metaphors to describe himself: ?a fragrant lake of blood, a reservoir, a

lavish field of food, A cunning, strong Gargantua,? and lastly a

?murderer.? He uses these to draw the reader into having feelings for both

sides of the story. If Updike uses any symbolism in this poem, it is very

little, or none at all. The only symbolism that I could gather from this is that

the mosquito represents some sort of group of repressed people, and Updike

himself is the one doing the repressing, and disregarding the value of life. The

way that the author uses syntax is wonderful, yet not fully understood, at least

not by me. The first and third lines rhyme as do the second and fourth. He tries

to continue this pattern throughout the poem, and is pretty successful, only

deviating a little bit. His use of syntax to portray himself as big and strong

and overpowering is strongly contradicted by how he depicts the mosquito as

small and delicate, he even refers to it as a woman. The sentences are always

two lines long, except in the fourth stanza, where he runs on about how his

blood had seduced the mosquito. There are no sentence fragments. All his

sentences flow smoothly together and form a nice rhythm.


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