Ted Hughes's Use of Myths in Crow and Prometheus on His Crag
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Hughes’s personal life and the events in the periods in which Crow (1970) and Prometheus on His Crag (1973) were written are influential factors in Hughes’s poetry. Despite the fact that Hughes uses nature and animals as various symbols in his poetry, myths can be considered his main concern particularly in his poetry written in the 1960s and 1970s to represent the attitudes and beliefs of people and to present their challenge to the established systems, norms and values. In this sense, in this thesis, Hughes’s Crow and Prometheus on His Crag are studied as mythical poems representing the attitudes of the people in the 1960s and 1970s through the trickster myth and the Prometheus myth. To represent the subversive attitudes and values of the 1960s and the 1970s Hughes creates his own version of the trickster myth of the Crow, out of the trickster myth of native Americans and his own version of the Prometheus myth, out of the Greek myth of Prometheus. Accordingly, this thesis analyses Ted Hughes’s use of myths in his Crow and Prometheus on His Crag and argues that through the Crow myth in Crow and the Prometheus myth in Prometheus on His Crag, Hughes represents people’s subversion of and challenge to the dominant systems and values of the second half of the twentieth century. Through his mythic figures, Hughes introduces the changing characteristics of the people of the 1960s and 1970s as a result of the religious, political and socio- cultural transformations and conflicts in the British society of the 1960s and 1970s in particular. In Chapter I of this thesis, Hughes’s use of the trickster Crow myth is studied and it is argued that Hughes uses his own version of the Crow myth of native Americans to represent the various attitudes and characteristics of people of the 1960s with respect to ix socio-cultural background of the 1960s. Correspondingly, in relevant Crow poems Crow is observed to represent the people in the 1960s as survivors who manage to re- invent themselves through their rebellious and subversive attitudes and values. In Chapter II of this thesis, Hughes’s use of the Prometheus myth is analysed in the light of the historical background of the mid-1960s and early 1970s in particular to reflect the attitudes of the people in these periods. Accordingly, it is argued that, in Prometheus on His Crag, through the Prometheus myth, the rebellious attitudes, people’s loss and recovery of hope in the mid-1960s and early 1970s are presented. Hence, this thesis argues that Hughes’s use of myth is functional in that his Crow myth in Crow and Prometheus myth in Prometheus on His Crag provide an insight into the lives and attitudes of the people in the 1960s and 1970s. Hughes, through the trickster myth of the Crow and the Prometheus myth presents the general state of the people in the mid-twentieth century and show their loss and recovery of hope and their ways of coping with the difficulties and challenges in these decades.