Name Instructor Course Date “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn”: Homage to Nature. Kenneth Grahame’s “The Wind in the Willows” is an anthropomorphic tale in which animals are invested with human traits. It is a tale of the friendship between the main characters: Mole, Ratty, Badger and Toad…
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In chapter seven, “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” Mole and Ratty go in search of Otter’s lost son, Portly. They find him on a little island, under the protection of a strange personage. In this chapter, Grahame appropriately depicts the mythological Greek God Pan, shows his relationship to the animals and highlights his presence throughout the narrative. “The Piper in the Woods” is rightly the Greek God, Pan. Except for a few pages devoted to Toad’s mishaps, “The Wind in the Willows” is almost exclusively set on the River Bank and in the Wild Wood. In this context, Pan, as the mythological god of the woods and the wilds, certainly fits into the world of the narrative. The story of “The Wind in the Willows” is filled with detailed, glowing descriptions of nature’s beauty: “a sky that was always dancing, shimmering, softly talking; or swaying strongly to the passing wind and recovering itself with a toss and a merry laugh” (Grahame, Chapter 8); “Willow-herb, tender and wistful, like a pink sunset cloud” (Grahame, 3). As the personification of nature, Pan’s presence in such a story is very appropriate. ...
The author gives a depiction of the god which is true to mythology. Mole and Ratty are entranced by their encounter with Pan. The animals’ relationship with Pan is deeply religious. Pan is the god of flocks and animals and Rat and Mole unabashedly pay homage to him in touching humility. Before Pan’s “august Presence,” the two animals “bowed their heads and did worship” (Grahame, 7). Rat emphasizes the sacredness of the encounter with his confident declaration that ““Here, in this holy place, here if anywhere, surely we shall find Him!”” (Grahame, 7). The animals are in deep awe of the god. It is a mystical experience for them and they stand entranced, with tears on their cheeks and trembling bodies. They are elevated to a higher place in which their senses are heightened. The pull of the pan-pipes is irresistible to Mole and Ratty. Rat perceives their sound as “this new divine thing that caught up his helpless soul” (Grahame, 7) and as “the heavenly music” (Grahame, 7). The animals relate to Pan as their “Healer and Helper” and are justified in their belief, as the mythological shepherd protectively guards the lost baby otter. They react to Pan with a mixture of awe, fear and deep affection. Even as the animals shiver, Rat has “eyes shining with unutterable love” (Grahame, 7). This deeply moving relationship between the animals and their god runs through the entire narrative. Pan is the unseen presence which underlines the story. As the personification of nature, Pan is present in Grahame’s vivid depiction of nature. In fact, the author may be said to worship nature in his portrayal of the story’s setting.
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