What is more important in life — freedom or captivity? Explain this in the light of the dolphins’ captivity in the poem ‘The Dolphins’ by Carol Ann Duffy.
The story of the captive dolphins in Duffy’s poem makes us ponder on the question — Which is more important in life, freedom or captivity? Certainly, the answer cannot go only one way here.
Freedom and captivity, both have their own role in life. Freedom is what everybody wants to enjoy in life. The dolphins too wish that they get their freedom of roaming about and playing in the large ocean. “We were blessed and now we are not blessed” reveals their regret and sorrow to live in a mere bowl and be guided by a man.
But, this is their captivity that makes them realise the importance of freedom. If they were not confined in where they are now, they would never know how it feels to be in captivity and how it is different from the life they had spent while living freely in the ocean. Thus it can be concluded that one should get and enjoy one’s freedom in life, but one should also know the importance of freedom in order to enjoy it fully.
Humans and animals often fail to understand the relevance of things as long as they have it in plenty.
The poem Dolphins by Carol Ann Duffy is dramatic monologue that highlights the themes of clostrophobia, nostalgia and the suffering of animals. The poetess successfully voices her opinions through the dolphins, and helps the reader to look at the world through their perspective thus bringing out a strong feeling of empathy and enforcing the reader to step back and look at the essence of freedom.
“The world is what you swim in or dance it is simple”
The dolphins consider the world to be a place of enjoyment. It is simple for them. However they no longer view the world with the same conceptions since they are in their “element” but they “are not free”. They no longer reflect upon the simplicity of life after they have been confined by humans.
“We have found no truth in these waters, no explanations tremble on our flesh”
The dolphins don’t consider their restricted life worth living as they cannot make sense out of a world that has no sense. they knew what freedom felt like when they were no limits to the vastness of the ocean. The dolphins knew that they “ were blessed” once they were free but now they “are not blessed”. This itself shows how much value the element of freedom has towards an individual. They are confined but that doesn’t stop them from reflecting upon every action as an excuse to have memories from their glorious past.
“We see our silver skin flash by like memories of somewhere else”
This line itself brings out the theme of Nostalgia and how “there is constant flowing guilt” ami g the dolphins for having given away to confinement in the first place. But their state has been so deplorable that the believe “there is no hope”. “The moon has disappeared” this line acts as an apt metaphor to signify the loss of hope and the eventual succumbing to drudgery.
”It was the same place. It is the same place”
Water might be an element that is common to both an ocean as well as an aquarium . But the dolphins understood how different they were from each other once they were subjected to the latter. Thus it was perhaps confinement that acted as an epiphany and helped the dolphins to realize the significance of freedom. Even though these terms might be juxtaposed to each other it was the importance of snatching away their freedom that made the dolphins realize what freedom truly meant.