The poem “The Dolphins” by Carol Ann Duffy is a dramatic monologue that expresses the abuse of animals in the hand of man. Discuss.
Monologue means a speech from a single (mono) person. The main features of a dramatic monologue are:
- A single narrator (but not the poet) narrates everything.
- One or more other characters are present, but they don’t speak anything directly. We know what they say or do from the narrator’s mouth.
- The text reveals the speaker’s character and temperament.
Now, in the poem The Dolphins a dolphin is the single speaker who narrates its deplorable condition in a restricted pool. It not only speaks of itself but also of the other dolphin in which it finds its own reflection. The other dolphin and a man are present in the scene but they remain silent throughout. We come to know of their presence and activities from the single speaker — the speaking dolphin’s voice.
Again, the dolphin does not narrate something merely objectively but it reveals its feelings, its sadness, hopelessness, the monotony and even its fellow-feeling for the other dolphin. Revealing the speaker’s heart is an important aspect of a dramatic monologue.
Through the monologue of the dolphin Carol Ann Duffy presents the sheer abuse of animals in the hands of man. She protests against this kind of exploitation of wildlife and other natural elements. A dolphin revealing its feelings in its own voice is not at all to give the readers a new kind of amusement; rather underlying it goes a strong message that man has been cruel to nature and its components and it should stop now anyway. She attacks the human prejudice called speciesism and demands the protection of rights of animals who we think are inferior to us and thus inflict ill-treatment upon to use them in our way.