Explore the poem The Dolphins by Carol as a critique of Speciesism with regard to the way humans exploit the dolphins for their selfish purpose.
Or, What is speciesism? How does Duffy criticize speciesism in her poem about the dolphins?
Species-ism is prejudice against individuals based on their species membership, just like racism is a prejudice and discrimination against individuals based on their race. To make it easy, speciesism is the belief that some species like humans are superior to other species on earth. It involves treating members of one species as morally more important than members of other species even when their interests are equivalent. The term ‘speciesism’ and the argument that it is nothing but a prejudice is rather new and first appeared in 1970 in a pamphlet written by the British psychologist Richard D. Ryder.
More often than not we assume that we humans are superior to other species on this earth and that leads to abuse of wildlife and exploitation of animals. The poet Carol Ann Duffy protests against this tendency of ours in her poem “The Dolphins”. Here she lends voice to a dolphin and helps it express its sadness over ill-treatment in the hands of man.
The dolphin speaks of how it has to live in a pool with its movements restricted and regulated by a man. The man is constantly there to make the dolphins perform tricks in order to entertain people in circus. There are hoofs and a plastic ball on which the dolphins have to balance. The dolphins don’t feel happy living in such restricted conditions and they feel one day they will die here.
There is a man and our mind knows we will die here.
The dolphin repeatedly mentions the presence of a man there as the authority over them in every stanza of the poem. This is very significant in conveying the message that man shouldn’t be there abusing and exploiting other animals. It is as if wherever there is man, there is impurity, distortion and destruction, as I have explained here before. The poet here wants to deliver a strong message that this exploitation of animals and other natural elements come from our prejudiced belief that we are superior to others and thus are the authority to use anything in our way. The poem is seen as the poet’s plea to the readers to respect the natural rights of animals and is thus anti-speciesism.