The Ant-Eater | Analysis

This study guide will help you analyse the poem “The Ant-Eater” by Roald Dahl. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on composition, characters and narrator, language and style, rhythm and rhyme, imagery and metaphors, theme and message, and on the questions that you find in Targets.

Presentation of the poem

Title: “The Ant-Eater”
Author: Roald Dahl
Published in: “Dirty Beasts”
Date of Publication: 1983
Genre: Poem

Roald Dahl was a British writer mostly known for his children books. He is one of the most famous and cherished British writers of the 20th century. The poem “The Ant-Eater” is part of a collection of poems called “Dirty Beasts”, published in 1983. The collection presents the unusual deeds of some animals (pigs, crocodiles, lions, ant-eaters, etc.).


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Both Roy and the ant-eater are symbols of human and animal nature. Roy is a symbol of self-interest and spoil. He has everything he can wish for, yet he always wants more. He does not care about others and shows no mercy when the ant-eater, close to death, implores for something to eat. The ant-eater is a symbol of vengeance and wilderness. When removed from his natural environment, people have the impression that he is tamed. The ant-eater, however, demonstrates that he has not lost his natural instincts. The poem implies that he is not as innocent as he looks and that he deliberately seeks revenge. He can be seen as a cunning and deceitful creature.

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The Ant-Eater | Analysis

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