The Cockroach Poem Essay

Fate of a Cockroach Analysis Essay

2016 WordsApr 16th, 20139 Pages

Al-Hakim’s Fate of a Cockroach was first published in 1966. In my opinion, al-Hakim asserts that man has no control over his own fate as the central theme of his play. The belief that one can control his or her fate consequently leads to an obsession with attaining knowledge and power. Through his male characters, Al-Hakim intended to describe the nature of man as presumptuous, self-centered and obsessed with scientific pursuits. Alternatively, the women in his play closely epitomize the humbling phenomena of nature. Within the play, the Queen cockroach and Samia are characterized as ego effacing in events of their husband’s self-aggrandizement. Similarly, we are all confronted with our insignificance in the world when the powerful hand of…show more content…

Though seen as inferior to cockroaches, as stated by the Savant because they are solely concerned with acquiring food, the ants pose the greatest threat to the existence of the cockroach. When a cockroach slips onto it’s back, the ants immediately attack and carry it away to be stored for food. I find this to be ironic because even though the ants are seen as insignificant in the cockroaches’ world, they prove to be integral components in deciding the fate of the cockroach. After the Minister announces the death of his son, it is the Queen who asserts that a solution to the problem of the ants must be pursued and the King who says that no solution exists. Again the King’s significance is undermined as he cannot rise to this challenging occasion or “fulfill [his] official functions”(pg.8).
As exemplified throughout the play by the cockroaches, an air of superiority keeps them from adapting the ways of the ‘inferior’ ants and, in turn, possibly finding a solution to their problem. In a moment of clarity, a suggestion is made by the Minister, “Armies. [The ants] attack us with huge armies. Now if were able to mobilize ourselves and assemble in great numbers we’d find it easy to attack them, to scatter and to crush them under our great feet.”(pg.9) Immediately the King applies his ‘authority’ and rebukes the Minister’s notion, cutting him down because it is a “stupid” idea; in the “long history” of

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Kevin Halligan’s  poem “ The Cockroach” should be read on two levels: literal and figurative.  The poem has fifteen lines with a set rhyme scheme of every other line rhyming—ABABCDCD [to show the pattern]. The point of view is first person with the poet as the speaker.

The literal meaning is a realistic scene of the speaker watching a huge cockroach crossing the floor of the house.  The speaker is intrigued and examines the movement of the insect. 

The roach avoids a dust bunny by sidestepping around it. As it crossed the floor, it follows a path probably previous covered.  The roach begins to move quicker in circles and acts oddly.  It flips over as if to scratch its wings.  Something was affecting the bug because it seems to be having an attack which causes it be uncertain and erratic in its movements.

Finally, it climbed up on a shelf and ceased to move.  No longer did it appear to know what to do.  Was it being punished for something that it had done? While the speaker watched the insect, he felt as though he saw himself in its actions. It looked clear about what to do next.

He looked uncertain where to go.

Was this due payment for some vicious crime

A former life had led to? I don’t know

Except I thought I recognised myself.

On a deeper, figurative level, the poem can be read as an extended metaphor for the life of the speaker or possibly the human race in general. The roach is large which indicates an unusual insect.  Is it large because it is large for the species or just large enough to represent man?

The activities of the roach are supplied using action verbs typical of a person’s movements: job, trace, circle, and skirted.  As its actions become more frantic, it represents human nature when it reacts to an unnerving situation. 

Initially, the cockroach appears to be moving along in its path, then something happens which throws it off center. Man in his life often has an event that rattles his normalcy or knocks him “off his game.”


First moving in a straight line or path with a specific goal in mind, man sometimes engages in some activity which impacts his actions.  It may be restlessness, boredom, or even something more spurious—drugs, alcohol, wrongful activities.

If a person does not accomplish what he wants or fails to receive the returns that he expects, he may scurry around to change the course of his life without having a plan or a goal.  When the insect climbs on the shelf, it is apparent that it is unclear what it plans on doing next. This also happens to a person when he has something that impacts his life in a uncertain or unclear manner.  He stops and looks at his options and hopefully is able to return to a more positive path. 

Unfortunately, in the poem, the reader is not sure what will happen next since the speaker sees himself in the tentative stance.  This is true of all men’s future…no one knows what will happened next or what needs to be done to get back on the beaten path

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