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The Mosquito Analysis
The Mosquito

By: John Updike


The Mosquito

By John Updike


This poem by Updike describes an ordinarily dull and bland, if not even annoying pest and one of his dealings with such a creature. This pest is of course a mosquito, which seems to have made its way into his bedroom, looking to make a meal out of him. The main point that I think this poem is trying to convey is that sometimes ordinary or dull occurrences can be made into a game, and had fun with. No one likes mosquitoes, but when you think of one as an opponent and it is either kill, or be killed, then you can understand the mosquito’s point of view.

The speaker, who is Updike himself, seems to want to convey a melancholy affect with the use of his nonchalant language, as when he makes the mosquito a woman. Who knows, or even cares what a mosquito is, when it is bugging you, you just want it dead. Which is what he wants, but the tone remains laid back and lazy. It almost has a sarcastic or ironic twinge to it. It makes this huge melodrama out of something that is quite ordinary. Yet he professes the mosquito’s innocence of wrongdoing. All she wanted was a necessary meal, lest she die, she had to drink of his “fragrant lake of blood.”

The diction of the poem is just wonderful and spectacular. When he says “fine wire of her whine she walked,” we all know that he is describing how a mosquito hums along and winds through the air, with no direct course, but the picture it creates in your mind is very clear. When he uses “ominous” in the second line, it foreshadows some deep, dark thing to come. The word fragrant in the second stanza reveals that the mosquito probably cannot see him, but only smells his delicious blood, as one smells a home cooked meal from one’s bedroom, down the hall. When he describes himself as a “lavish field of food,” the word lavish jumps out at you. Once again saying that she in fact did not want to hurt anyone, but only to feast on this wonderful meal before her. He compares himself with her as if they were raging in some game or battle; he calls them “opponents.” He uses “thread” and “fine wire” to describe her movement, almost as if she were a puppet. He gives her human characteristics by saying she has a “nose,” and saying that she was “thankful.” He says his death movement was “cunning and strong,” as if it took some great skill to kill a mosquito. He describes himself as a “Gargantua,” as if to say that his opponent never really had a chance. He describes his skin as a “feast,” reinforcing the fact that she was only out to get a meal. She was “Lulled” by his blood, as if it had sung her a lull-a-by, as if his blood was a self-defense mechanism, to put to sleep those who would attack him. The only remorse he had was a “small welt,” and a welt is a small enough thing in its self, I mean, its not a bruise or anything, and a small welt, well, that’s hardly a welt at all. He describes himself as a “murderer” and the mosquito as “murdered,” because she was, in fact, innocent of any wrongdoing. All that she was doing was getting herself a meal, and he had killed her for it.

There is much great imagery in...
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the mosquito analysis. EssayMania.com. Retrieved on 12 Oct, 2010 from