Language Techniques in H is for Hawk

Language Techniques in H is for Hawk

How does the writer use language to convey the majestic nature of the hawk and the feelings of Helen Macdonald?

The writer uses metaphor to convey the majestic nature of the hawk. This can be shown from the description of the hawk: “She is a conjuring trick. A reptile. A fallen angel. A griffon from the pages of an illuminated bestiary. Something bright and distant, like gold falling through water.” These sentences describe the young hawk as lots of things, including a reptile that represents fierceness, a fallen angel that represents outstanding beauty and innocence, a griffon that represents unbounded courage, and gold falling through water that suggests the natural magnificence of the hawk. The metaphors used in these descriptions vividly illustrate the hawk as a strong, beautiful and admirable being, and this can be concluded as being majestic. Therefore, the writer uses metaphor to convey the majestic nature of the hawk.

Besides illustration of the hawk, the writer also reveals the feelings of Helen Macdonald. Firstly, the writer uses polysyndeton to convey the feelings of Helen Macdonald. This is shown at the beginning of the third paragraph: “[…] he reached inside, and amidst a whirring, chaotic clatter of wings and feet and talons and a high-pitched twittering and it’s all happening at once […]” The repetition of the conjunction “and” speeds up the pace, showing a large number of details Helen Macdonald noticed, implying that she was worried, a bit disconcerted, quite interested and paid a great amount of attention on the hawk. Therefore, the writer uses polysyndeton to convey the feelings of Helen Macdonald.

Secondly, the writer uses a single sentence word to convey the surprise of Helen Macdonald. When Macdonald realized that the hawk was not hers, the writer uses a paragraph with just a sentence with only one word: “Oh.” This sentence, comparing to the ones from the last paragraph, was like a sudden break. It is a sound in a long silence to voice Macdonald’s surprise, trying to understand what had just happened. This accurately shows Macdonald’s unbelief that the younger hawk, the one that she adored so much, was not her hawk. Thus, the writer uses and single sentence word to convey the surprise of Helen Macdonald.

In conclusion, in the extract from H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, the writer uses metaphor to vividly illustrate the majestic nature of the hawk, polysyndeton and a single sentence word to convey the inner feelings of Macdonald effectively.

**I’ve read some book review H is for Hawk seems to be quite interesting! I decide to read it next week.

  1. This was incredibly helpful. I also want to provide some context so the readers can further understand where MacDonald was coming from.
    It was set in a stage of grief; MacDonald had lost her dad, whom she was close with, very suddenly, and so it comes as no surprise to the reader she dealt with her grief in a way that best felt comfortable to her – buying a hawk. This may sound unusual, but it was something she was interested in for a long time, and she said ‘sometimes grief manifests itself in a way you don’t understand’. This means she didn’t realise she was doing it, but she distracts herself from the grief as much as she can. MacDonald alludes to her grief in the passage: ‘that there was something behind it that was very important’, lines 69-70. The last paragraph clarifies the fact that this hawk is important, for other reasons.
    I hope this helped!
    Feel free to email me at s.bulcott@gmail.com

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