Hotel Room, 12th Floor

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In Norman MacCaig’s poem; Hotel Room, 12th Floor there is a sustained mood of fear of which has been created through the poets view of New York. The poet’s comments on the violence in the city uncover a frightful image of downtown New York. In this response, I will discuss how MacCaig creates this mood of fear through close examination of his poetic techniques such as: imagery, structure and sound devices. Through the use of unusual lexical choice, MacCaig successfully creates a mood of fear. Fear is created from the beginning of the poem when we read that: “a helicopter skirting like a damaged insect The Empire State Building” The word “skirting” is used to create a mood of caution and unease from the start. This unease and caution is reinforced later in the poem when we are told that: “now midnight has come in” The use of the word “midnight” is used to refer to the “evil” in the city and the personification is used to make the reader feel as though “midnight” has a mind of its own, making it unpredictable, emphasising the sense of fear and unease. Later in the poem we are made to feel that New York is a “frontier” city when the poet describes: “darkness is shot at by a million lit windows” Light and dark is used to symbolise good and evil, it is as though the “dakness” is being “shot” at, this also create a mood of fear. MacCaig also forms an atmosphere of fear by using sound devices. This mood is created by this technique when the “Empire State Building” is first described as a “dentist’s drill” The harsh sound which comes from the onomatopoeia, “drill” forms a sense of fear and caution. Also a “dentist’s drill “ is a very normal thing to be afraid of in today’s society, therefore MacCaig may have been explaining that the city of New York is a place which is also quite normal to be afraid of. The feeling of fear is reinforced when MacCaig describes
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