The Lost Trees Essay, Research Paper
February 22, 1996
The Lost Trees
The double shame in man’s war against man is the residual effect on nature; an innocent ,
helpless bystander. The sense of potential devastation is the prevailing tone throughout the poem,
“Gathered by the River,” by Denise Levertov.
The spoliation caused by nuclear war is not limited to the loss of human lives. Nature can take a
comparable amount of time to recover from a nuclear holocaust. The impact of war victims to humankind
is negligible as compared to years of recovery required to reinstate the slow-growing trees. When
Levertov notes, “the trees are not indifferent” (l 13), she is saying that nature has a huge stake in the
outcome of man’s tendency towards self-destruction.
“[I]f our resolves and prayers are weak and fail / there will be nothing left of their slow and
innocent wisdom” (ll 49-50), demonstrates the trees’ awareness of how lengthy their recovery time can
take. They listen incredulously to mans’ promises that he will not make this deadly mistake again, but
worry he is too weak to honor their promises.
Levertov is implying there should be harmony between man and nature and the nature of how
mankind conducts itself can have long-range effects on the course of nature. For example, we now know
how the destruction of the rain forest in South America is affecting the percentage of oxygen available
around the globe. Man’s wholesale destruction of these areas for financial gain, despite the negative
results, is a study of the nature of man’s inhumanity to man. Do we not all breathe, even those who fell
Man is not completely in control, however. Nature’s ability to wreak havoc on the environment
of all living things in the form of earthquakes, floods, and other natural disasters should be a wake-up call
to humankind. Is this nature’s way of reminding us where the true control lies?
I think the answer lies in education. I think an International Environmental Awareness Bureau
should be established to provide education on a worldwide basis. Subjects could include global warming,
air and water pollution, overpopulation, and other environmentally sensitive issues. If the education can
start at an early age, a generation of nature conscience members of the earth could evolve.
In addition, a Global Environmental Council could be established to monitor and control
environmentally unfriendly industries. This council could establish policies and procedures to prevent the
detrimental side effects related to modern industry. These bureaus and councils would have the ultimate
authority over all industry with agreements that their rulings were for the good of the planet.
The final question regarding man at war is more difficult to answer. How can all men be
educated to act against his primeval instincts to pursue and conquer? Would we be too optimistic to
believe man can be trained to understand and curb these prehistoric tendencies towards violence?
Perhaps the answer lies in womankind.
Throughout the prolific past of classic English literature, there were writers that
were prone to create a perfect, high-class setting in which the characters were of upper
standards. Then there were the writers who wanted to create fear and absolute terror for
the reader. But the fear and terror that was established in this novel, and during this time
period, seem to contrast today’s idea of fear and terror. If Dracula was published in 1996,
I do not think it would be as frightful because the legend of Dracula has been remade in a
myriad of ways and it just isn’t scary anymore. There are many devices and techniques
that were incorporated into this original masterpiece of horror, but the three I feel Stoker
uses most effectively are: imagery, foreshadowing, and setting.
Imagery is probably the most important device Stoker utilizes in this novel. He
pays a great deal of attention to every detail, minute as it may seem. One example of
imagery can be located on page 36. On this page Stoker describes the castle as, “… it was
built on the corner of a great rock, so that on three sides it was quite impregnable, and
great windows were placed here where sling, or bow, or culverin could not reach, and
consequently light and comfort, impossible to a position which had to be guarded, were
secured.” This description could also be an example of foreshadowing, as I will explain
later. Another example of imagery can be found on page 54. This is when Jonathan was
trying to escape and he ran across the Count’s coffin. Stoker creates the horrifying image
of the devilish antagonist by writing, “… looking as if his youth had been half renewed, for
the white hair and moustache were changed to dark iron-grey; the cheeks were fuller, and
the white skin seemed ruby-red underneath; the mouth was redder than ever, for on the
lips were gouts of fresh blood, which trickled from the corners of the mouth and ran over
the chin and neck. Even the deep, burning eyes seemed set amongst swollen flesh, for the
lids and pouches underneath were bloated. It seemed as if the whole awful creature were
simply gorged with blood.” This extremely detailed description of Dracula after feeding
creates a vivid picture of how truly evil and horrifying he is. A third example that adds to
the suspense/ horror is in Chapter 18 when the group finds out the vampire’s strengths
which include: they do not die from the passing of time, they can be as strong as twenty
men, and they can appear in any form or disappear at will. This adds to the suspense
because the group is trying to figure out a way to finally destroy Dracula, given all of
these limitations, and they will not rest until he is terminated for good.
Another technique that Stoker uses to create suspense/ horror is foreshadowing.
For example, as I stated earlier, the castle was described as being an impregnable fortress,
where it was almost impossible to get in or out. This foreshadows Jonathan’s future in
life, because if the castle lives up to its description, he will surely meet his doom. A
second example is the many superstitions of the townspeople when Jonathan arrives.
When they find out where he is destined to go they immediately cross themselves and hold
up two fingers to ward off the evil eye. These people must have valuable knowledge
regarding the destination of Jonathan because he has no idea what he will encounter and
so the suspense begins to escalate. Lastly foreshadowing can be found at the end of
Chapter 12 when VanHelsing remarks, “… It is only the beginning… We can do nothing as
yet. Wait and see.” Obviously VanHelsing has some knowledge of the Un-dead, as we
later find out, because he expects something is going to happen. He is afraid to tell the
others what the real truth is because it would sound ludicrous to attribute an illness to
vampirism, therefore VanHelsing decides to keep quiet for a little while longer.
Last but certainly not least is Stoker’s brilliant use of setting to help create
suspense. At the very beginning of the novel when Harker was riding in the carriage,
Stoker created an erie setting to compliment the syrange carriage ride. “… By the
roadside were many crosses, and as we swept by, my companions all crossed themselves…
As the evening fellit began to get very cold, and the growing twilight seemed to merge
into onedark mistinessthe gloom of the trees… great masses of greyness, which here and
there bestrewed the trees, produced a peculiarly weird and solemn effect, which carried on
the thoughts and grim fancies engendered earlierin the evening.” Another example would
be when the ship Demeter was coming into port and there was a storm following it and
there was also dense fog which arrived with the ship, not to mention Dracula himself. The
darkness that arrives with the Demeter almost insures that wherever the ship has landed
there will be some awful things to come.
In conclusion, the fact that the imagery, foreshadowing, and setting all compliment
each other assures the reader that there is never a dull moment in such a horrific tale that
could be closely considered as a reality. Stoker seems to tie all of the elements that create
horror/ suspense together in a way not to over expose the reader to simply people dying,
but merely entice them to read further and experience the real terror of Count Dracula.