Snake vs 2 Head Snake
Comparative Essay between Snake and Double Head Snake poems...
Name: Felipe Calvette .
A Reading About Internal Conflicts The “Snake” and “The Double-Headed Snake” are two poems that utilize symbolism, in the image of a snake to represent an idea of a divine element. In spite of the differences encountered in the poems such as cultural beliefs and geographical locations, in a general form both poems address the fear felt by the speaker and illustrate theirs internal conflict. The first difference it that Lawrence´s poem brings a clear reference to Sicily (25), and describes the weather as “a hot, hot day”(2) while the “Double-Head Snake” starts by explain the “feel of the mountains”(1) and the sensation of the prairies associated to Saskatchewan (28) and the cold present in both. Secondly, the “Snake” shows allusions to a Christian belief in several passages. The first allusion is on the line 15, where the speaker compares himself to the “second comer”, this allusion to Christianity also could be seen where the speaker feels the compulsion to confess, remorse, and guilty at the end of the poem by affirm “I have something to expiate”(73).The Christian belief can´t be seen in the “Double-Head Snake” but the speaker remember “the stories of the Indians, Sis-i-utl”(17) in a clear reference of Native Beliefs [First Nations]. Those differences are easy to notice because they are very literal unlike the similarities.
In Lawrence´s poem the snake is personified as an individual male, as the speaker refers to the animal as "he", fact that also could be observed in the reference of “his shoulders” a human feature. The personification is also brought on the expression of the divinity of this animal, as a king, a god as could be seen on the last stanza when the speaker states "I missed my chance with one of the lords of life" (71). The same allusion happens in Newlove´s poem by referring to the legend of the Indians, the "Sis-i-utl, the double-headed snake", which according to the Wikipedia article means "The Sisiutl is one of the most powerful crests, and mythological creatures… Sisiutl is the god warrior of invincibility". That said, in both poems the protagonists are taken by a fear of snakes, symbolizing the Divinity, and your superiority to the human condition. Fact that raises the question: How could the snake image have similar meaning in two diverse poems, separated not only by time but geography itself? According to Jung, in his book “The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious”, the archetypes are the collective unconscious, which is not individually developed in the person, but is inherited. It is the sum of all the experiences of a human community, a nation, a tribe, a race or even all mankind. The snake not only figure in almost all the globe cultures, past and present, but keeps in the vast majority of them an ambivalent symbolism connected simultaneously to the divine and the demonic (Augusto). And
in both poems I can see the desire of the speakers to approach the divine, the snake, or the beautiful [divine presence on Nature and life], but also the presence of mundane impulses stopped only by voices of their previous educations that censer them, this conflict scares and the divine instigate fear. On the “Snake”, the battle between the speaker desire and his upbringings are very clear in by the passage "voices in me said, If you were a man / You would take a stick and break him now, and finish him off. / But I must confess how I liked him"(25-27), which reveal the human conflict between the desire of spiritual hegemony and the voices of the superego[collective conscious], the values acquired throughout the training and education of the person, filled up with cultural and traditional customs that prevent humans from following their instincts and primary desires. Despite the enchantment with the snake, the speaker cannot follow his desire that is suppressed by the voices of their education, and pushes away the snake, regretting immediately, judging himself insignificant and unimportant person (65). The same internal conflict occurs in "The Double-Headed Snake" where the speaker refers to fear as adrenalin rush sensation that is among the greatest beauties. He uses that fear sensation to demonstrate that he feels the same way about the mountains and the prairies. The fear in both places is a notorious reference to the two-headed snake[spiritual god warrior], demonstrating ambiguity, just like the human conflict caused
by battle between the primary impulses and the superego, as well as "double-headed snake / striking in both directions"(36-37). When comparing the poems "Snake" and "The Double-Headed Snake," it possible to observed discrepancies, such as the geographical location, being one a region of Italy, and other a part of western Canada. It’s also possible to notice the influences of beliefs since in one is evident the Christianity and in the other the indigenous mythology. But despite these elements that differentiate them, the elements common to both are the ones that stand out as the use of the archetype of the snake and its symbolism of spiritual hegemony, to demonstrate the ambiguity and frequent internal conflict between impulses and social values acquired, the superego, present in the human condition. In both poems, the speakers express similar feelings of attraction and fascination for divinity; against the feeling of fear in allow the appearance of their primal instincts.
Augusto, Luis M. Freud, Jung, Lacan: About the Inconscient. Porto:U.Porto, 2013. 171. Eletronic [In Portuguese]. Jung, Carl.G. The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. Trans: Appy, Maria.Vol.9. Petrópolis:Vozes, 2002.53. Eletronic Lawrence, D.H. “Snake.” The New Wascana Anthology. Ed. Medrie Purdham and Michael Trussler. Regina: University of Regina Press, 2014. 106-108. Print Newlove, John. “The Double-Headed Snake.” The New Wascana Anthology. Ed. Medrie Purdham, and Michael Trussler,. Regina: University of Regina Press, 2014. 150. Print “Sisiutl” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 10 Set. 2015. Web. 25 Jul. 2016.