? The Pigtail –William Makepeace Thackeray This poem ‘the pigtail’, written by William Makepeace Thackeray is a humorous poem, which revolves around a foolish act done by a sage. Throughout the poem, the poet laughs at this wise man, who does not have any practical knowledge, but uses his thearatical knowledge and does foolish things. In this poem, the sage tries to change his pigtail’s place and move it in front of his head and he thinks if he turn around and this pigtail would also turn and come infront of his head which is extremely funny.
“There lived a sage in the days of yore And he a handsome pigtail wore” The poet narrates us about a sage, who lived in the past with a beautiful pigtail. Usually sages are wise men and we expect them to do wise things. But this sage worrying over a pigtail which is actually useless. Even a common man can understand this truth, but this wise man is unable to understand this fact. He just think according to his logic and forgets even the practical side of the matter.
As reader’s we understand what would happen if our hair grows in front of our head, we would be unable to see, breath understand it would affect our normal life and we would have to face so many bad consequences. The illogical, irrational behavior of this sage creates humour, and we readers cannot help agreeing that the poet has made humour successfully , out of sage’s behavior. “he mused upon this curious case And swore he’d change the pigtail’s place” Actually this case neither has anythi g to worry about nor this is a curious case.
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But this sage worried about this for along time and gave an oath that he’d change the pigtail’s position,which is apparently impossible and very funny. This small thing is a serious problem for this wise man and this concept is made fun of. “says he the mystery I’ve found I’ll turn me round – He turned him round But still hung behind him” The funniest part is the solution the sage has found to change the position of the pigtail. He decided to turn himself round and he does this continiously without stopping, throughout the day .
He turns in different directions ,he turns right and left and out and in,creating a humorous picture of a wise old man who is struggling hard to turn in different ways, in reader’s mind. Even though he does this entire day ,it doesn’t change a bit, it still hangs firmly behind the sage’s head. Throughout the poem every act of this sage is described in a humorous manner by the poet. Even the narration of the story comes out with humour. This character of the sage is too rigid and attempts to change the natural order.
The poet uses the words in old English such as “sage”, “yore”, ”mused” to emphasize that right from the olden days the too learned are too foolish and irrational. The rhyming scheme enhances the funny effect of the poem. Throughout the poem, poet brigs out humour and at the same time he attacks well educated people who does not have practical common sense. William Makepeace Thackeray reveals clearly the vague efforts of the socalled sages bringing out humour and also inviting his readers to be alert and thoughtful and act in a meaningful manner.