WAEC GCE LITERATURE DRAMA & POETRY
The play is a masterpiece of dramatic irony, which is a device where the audience has information and knowledge that the characters do not. From the moment Tony plays the practical joke on Marlow and Hastings, the audience learns secrets that will grow more complicated and hence create confusion that leads to hilarious situations. The best example is perhaps the way Marlow and Hastings treat Hardcastle, because they think him a landlord. Because we understand the details of the confusions, we understand the jokes whereas the characters only grow more offended. However, the behavior wrought by the dramatic irony reveals much of Goldsmith’s view on humanity and class. The same example listed above is funny, but also shows the cruelty that comes from a rich man’s entitlement. Throughout the play, much of the class commentary derives from the behaviors people show when they don’t’ realize they are being judged. Kate exploits this to try and find out what kind of person Marlow actually is.
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This is the only hope left for a land that is in desperate need of political, economic and social redemption.
Poetic Devices in Ambush: Diction and Imagery
Two key literary techniques the poet employs to develop his themes in the poem Ambush are diction and imagery.
Diction and Imagery
Diction in poetry refers to the poet’s careful selection of words and expressions to convey his message to his audience. A poet normally relies on certain carefully-selected expressions to evoke images that help his audience to grasp the ideas expressed in the poem.
Here come some of the important words and expressions that are used to effectively develop the thematic issues in Gbemisola Adeoti’s poem, Ambush.
Words and expressions in Ambush that evoke images relating to the theme of unfulfilled dreams
Petered out desires
Words and expressions in Ambush that depict the theme of fear and terror
Bayonets of tribulation
Words and expressions in Ambush that depict the themes of hope and social change
Figures of Speech and Other Literary Devices
Apart from diction, figures of speech are also an important tool in the hands of the poet.
In the poem, Ambush, metaphor is extensively used to treat the themes of failed governance and unfulfilled dreams, fear and terror, and hope for a brighter future through social revolution.
Here are some examples of metaphor in Ambush:
The title of the poem is itself a metaphor for the methods used by the political leadership to undermine the hopes and aspirations of a whole nation.
The dreams of a whole society have been “ambushed” by the unpatriotic activities of a few.
The land is a giant whale
The land is a saber-toothed tiger
The land is a giant hawk
In the above three metaphors, the persona directly compares the country to animals of prey – whale, tiger and hawk. The descriptive words giant and saber-toothed evoke in the reader visual images of terror.
They point to the hostile environment that the political class has succeeded in creating for the very people they are supposed to serve and protect.
The rich resources of the motherland have been plundered and mismanaged. The potential of its human capital has been stifled. The land has become synonymous with danger, insecurity, lack of opportunities and shattered dreams.
Aborting dreams of a good catch
The imagery of violence used in “aborting dreams” ties in well with the sense of fear and terror we are made to experience in the next stanza as we come face to face with the menacing image of the saber-toothed tiger.
“Good catch” is fishing imagery.
It refers to the great desires and hopes that have so far been dashed. This lack of personal and national achievement continues to create a feeling of despondency within the general populace.
Shore of possibilities
This metaphor evokes a more positive image. It contrasts sharply with much of what we find in the previous stanzas of the poem. It highlights the poet’s lingering hope for the brighter future that has eluded the country due to bad leadership.
The poet seems to suggest that all hope is not lost yet. The country still stands a good chance to effect the necessary changes that will enable it to attain its lofty dreams.
Allusion and Pun
“blue Peter on empty ships
All Peters with petered out desires”
The poet here is alluding to the biblical story of Jesus’ call of the twelve disciples.
Just as Peter, the hardworking fisherman, returns empty-handed after toiling all day at sea, so has the society the poet describes to us has nothing significant to show many years after attaining political independence.
The play on words, also known as pun, in “all Peters with petered out desires” goes to portray the society as a place of elusive dreams.
The poet has cleverly constructed Ambush around another literary device known as irony.
The land is supposed to be the mother, the provider and protector of its children. But as we have observed, the corrupt and uncaring political class has created a situation where the land has rather turned on its own, terrorizing them, devouring them, denying them of what rightfully belongs to them and making life unbearable for them.
Here come a couple of instances of repetition in the poem, Ambush.
The repetitive use of “the land” depicts the reflective mood of the persona. He appears to be in deep thought, brooding over what might have gone wrong with his native land.
This repetition also emphasizes the poet’s deep love and attachment to his motherland despite its current difficulties. This is a patriot whose undying love for his country cannot be questioned.
The obstacles are huge.
However, the poet might as well be saying that, like any other giant, the problems facing the nation can be overcome with the right leadership and the right methods.
Could Gbemisola Adeoti in any way be alluding to the biblical David and Goliath story? Your guess is as good as mine.
Alliteration and Onomatopoeia
Petered with petered out dreams
hawk … hovers and hoots in space
The poet in Ambush makes use of these two sound devices to evoke images of emptiness, danger and fear.
Truth and Falsehood; Thematically related to the theme of Appearance and Reality, Goldsmith uses falsehood to reveal the truth. Most obviously Tony’s lie about Mr. Hardcastle’s mansion being an inn produces the truth of the lovers’ affections. Lying also leads to poetic justice. When Constance asks to wear her jewels, Mrs. Hardcastle lies and tells her they have been lost. Tony takes the jewels to give to Hastings, and when Mrs. Hardcastle goes to find them, they have been lost. Her lie has become true.
(i)Patriotism and resistance to oppression; Kindo’s patriotic zeal saves the village of Mando from the vicious hands of Whitehead. When Whitehead refuses to accord King Santigi the respect he deserves, it is Kindo who restores it by putting Whitehead and his aide, Parker, where they truly belong beneath the King’s feet.
(ii)Greed; The marketers of this theme are whitehead, Maligu and Soko. The sole aim of these characters is to get rich at all costs. While Whitehead comes to the village of Mando with dubious intent to cart the people’s diamond away and become very rich, Maligu and Soko connive with Whitehead to carry out his intention and also get rich in the process. The theme of greed becomes evident when they begin to distrust one another and deplore strategies to eliminate each other to have a bigger part (if not all the parts) of the diamond wealth.