Call us 24/7: + 1(925)399 0085

Get your paper done by an expert

No matter what kind of academic paper you need, it is simple and secure to hire an essay writer for a price you can afford at StudyAcer. Save more time for yourself.

WhatsApp + 1(925)399 0085
$ 10
  • bibliography
  • title page
  • revisions
per page
19 k happy customers
4.7 out of 5 satisfaction rate
27 writers active

A Close Critical Reading of Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Fish” sample essay

Humans do not only learn from each other’s experiences. Sometimes, things in nature create within an observer or participant of a phenomenon in nature, a profound realization about life. Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Fish” shares to the reader a said effect. The poem describes a simple fishing experience, but the event, prompted by a particular fish that the speaker catches, awakens within him a sense of awe as to the worth of the otherwise everyday sea creature. The narrative poem has a simple story.

It is about someone who goes fishing one day. After the speaker catches the fish, however, it becomes an object of curiosity for him. The introspection begins an internal struggle as to whether he should keep the fish or not. In the end, he chooses to throw it back into the sea. Using a number of literary devices, however, Bishop is able to dramatize through words the internal struggle and in the process, illuminates and heightens the ordinary experience. The fish, for one, is not described as an object. It is referred to as a “he”.

This personification, however, is not to give the fish human attributes but to clue the reader that the poem is about more than catching a fish. The fish remains a fish all throughout the poem, but it is in the speaker’s mind that it becomes symbolic and therefore to be treated as an ordinary fish by the reader. More than this, it is actually the imagery, the similes and metaphors, which the writer uses to physically describe the fish that appeals the reader’s senses and sympathy for the fish which, in turn, lifts the poem to its higher meaning.

“He (the fish) didn’t fight” (5) when the speaker catches him. Its skin is like “like wallpaper…stained and lost through age” (13-15). On its jaw “hung five old pieces of fish-line…all their five big hooks/grown firmly in his mouth” (51, 54-55). This set of imagery suggests that this particular fish is old and has fought a lot of battles already. Its body has suffered the scars of past struggles and is battle-worn.

The simile of the five fish hooks as being compared by the poet to “medals with their ribbons…a five-haired beard of wisdom” (61, 63) recalls to the reader’s mind the medals on the suit of a five-star general who has fought wars and come out of them battle-scarred yet proud of every ribbon and scar. There is a tone of respect upon the speaker for the fish. At this point in the poem especially, the second half of the long single-stanza, there is an irony in the transformation of the creature from ordinary fish in the first line to the revered creature in the latter part of the poem.

This reverence is what convinces the speaker to “let the fish go” (76). The act of letting go, too, is another ironic event in that any fisherman would not let go of something he has worked hard to get. But to the poet, it is not a waste of effort because it is a show of his respect for the fish. After staring at the fish for a long time, “victory filled up/ the little rented boat” (65-66), the speaker expresses. It is a score of victory for the fish because its scars have convinced the speaker that this fish has fought all its life and now deserves respect for being a survivor.

Ultimately, the poem could be seen as an allegory to the beauty of a survivor’s ugly scars and physical deformities. The fish, with its rough skin “infested with tiny white sea-lice” (19) hanged with “rags of green weed” (21) and “five old pieces of fish-line” (51) stuck in its mouth, has grown ugly with age. Yet, these marks are not simply brought about by age but from years of struggling and freeing itself from past attempts of other fishermen to catch it. Those are its own marks of beauty and honor.


Bishop, Elizabeth. “The Fish”.

Our guarantees

Study Acers provides students with tutoring and help them save time, and excel in their courses. Students LOVE us!No matter what kind of essay paper you need, it is simple and secure to hire an essay writer for a price you can afford at StudyAcers. Save more time for yourself. Delivering a high-quality product at a reasonable price is not enough anymore.
That’s why we have developed 5 beneficial guarantees that will make your experience with our service enjoyable, easy, and safe.

Money-back guarantee

You have to be 100% sure of the quality of your product to give a money-back guarantee. This describes us perfectly. Make sure that this guarantee is totally transparent.

Read more

Zero-plagiarism guarantee

Each paper is composed from scratch, according to your instructions. It is then checked by our plagiarism-detection software. There is no gap where plagiarism could squeeze in.

Read more

Free-revision policy

Thanks to our free revisions, there is no way for you to be unsatisfied. We will work on your paper until you are completely happy with the result.

Read more

Privacy policy

Your email is safe, as we store it according to international data protection rules. Your bank details are secure, as we use only reliable payment systems.

Read more

Fair-cooperation guarantee

By sending us your money, you buy the service we provide. Check out our terms and conditions if you prefer business talks to be laid out in official language.

Read more

Our Homework Writing Disciplines

With a highly diverse team in almost all academic fields including: