Introduction of the Poem
Dahl’s Television makes people aware of the ill-effects of television on children’s mental growth and imagination. The poem emphasizes on the good effects of reading.
The poet is the mouthpiece of most people. The most important lesson learnt is that children should never be allowed to watch television. The best way to ensure that children do not get addicted to television is not to install one at home. In most homes children sit in front of the television the whole day, gazing at the screen for hours till their eyes almost fall out of their sockets.
Children are absolutely mesmerized by the utter rubbish aired on television. The only advantage that television has is it keeps children quiet and occupied. Watching television prevents them from climbing the windows sills, fighting with each other, and parents get time to prepare the lunch or wash the dishes.
But have parents ever stopped to think of damage television does to their precious darlings? The damages outnumber the advantages. Television deadens the mind and kills imagination. It makes them so dull and unimaginative that they can no longer appreciate fantasy. The brain stops thinking and children only see, they do not hear.
Parents will surely demand an alternative form of entertainment for their little ones. The poet suggests books. How did children entertain themselves before the invention of this monster? They read. The nursery was filled with books. The bedroom was filled with books, there were books beside the bed and more books waiting to be read. In fact, books were every where! These books roused the imagination islands that contained hidden treasure, smugglers and pirates, the smell of unusual food being cooked by cannibals. Not only this, the poet mentions a few popular storied read in his days – Mr. Tod, Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland and many more.
So the poet has an earnest request – throw away the television and in its place being back the book shelves. Initially children will protest but not for long. Once they realize that they have nothing else to do, they will go back to reading. Once they discover the joy of reading they will feel sick to think that they had wasted so much on something as repulsive as the television.
Parents who will reveal the wonderful world of books to their children will be thanked and more deeply loved by their children.
Critical Analysis of the Poem
The tone of this poem is contrary to what has led the poet to pen his thoughts here. Dahl is a man who lived through a period of great many inventions, including that of television. However, he is not excited by this so-called progress and development of the human race. He hankers after the olden days when life was simpler, and little pleasures were more easily experienced. He associates television with the loss of innocence of children. He is saddened to see that children do not any longer read books as ardently as they used to when he was younger. He longs to change this, and “Television” comes out of his meagre attempt to do so. In characteristic style, his aim is both to entertain and edify his readers – young and old alike.
Roald Dahl follows the same simple rhyme scheme throughout this poem – AABB and so on in a series of rhyming couplets. Only on one occasion does he diverge from this when the end words of the lines rhyme in lines 31, 32 & 33.
Apostrophe : This rhetorical device is used when a poet addresses his or her poem to an absent audience. Dahl uses the device of apostrophe when he addresses his poem to English parents and advises them on doing away with their television sets.
Summary of the poem
The poet talks about the importance of books in the lives of the children and most importantly, how this passion for books has been substituted with the addiction for television.
The poet makes the television set like an evil which hinders the growth of brains for the children and hampers their creativity. Next, the poet highlights the vitality of books which are, however , ignored because of this television.
The author, at the end, requests the parents to do away with the television sets from their homes and instead place a nice books shelf at its place and fill it with good books. This will aid the children build the knowledge, creativity and at the end, will make them successful. No matter, now, the children might rebel at this change and even argue and fight with the parents to throw away their favourite television, but at the end, they will be benefitting out of it. And a day will come, when they will acknowledge and thank the parents for doing so.
The poet starts the piece of the poem with the old saying by elders to keep the children away from the television set. The poet has made this statement very aggressively. He compared the television set to be as bad as an idiot box. One should keep the children away from the television set or may be the best part would be instead, never install the television sets in the house. If there would be no television sets, the children would not have it to waste all their precious time in front of them.
Next, the poet says that it is not uncommon to see the children sitting and staring continuously at the television sets. In almost every house, the same scene is to be seen. The children are so obsessive of watching the television, that one would find them in any awkward pose. The children don’t even care about what angel and how they are sitting, if they are in fact sitting also or just about to fall from the couch they are sitting on, but the most interesting part is that their eyes will be deeply focused at the television sets. The children are so damn obsessive that they do not even care about their eyes. In would feel as if their eye balls will come out, but still they would not be tired of watching the TV.
The poet is them referring to his own experience when he went to someone’s house and was astonished to see so many people staring at the TV continuously as if they are sitting in front of the TV since so very long. It looks as if they are hypnotized by the scenes in the TV. They stare so continuously that it seems that they do not even blink their eyes once. It seems as if they have the hang-over of watching the TV, which is nothing other than a junk box.
The poet, next, determines the main disadvantages for this TV and the unstoppable habit of the children to get stick to it. It is the TV set only, which make the children immobile. They are in sedentary position all day and thus, do not move out of the house to play or undertake any physical exercises or sports etc. They do not move out of the house to play together or even fight. This hampers their physical ability and growth. Not only has their own physical fitness, even the dumb television sets made their brains stop working.
The children become so much engaged in watching the TV, that the personal relationships between the mother and the child are also somewhat lost. The children do not argue with the mothers for cooking any nutritional foods etc. Here, the poet is referring to the personal touch the parents have with their children, the small arguments and even scolding are also essential in life, else it becomes very dull. In this case, the children in a way are lost in their own aloof world and do not care about anything else. They do not demand any time from their parents. The parents are free to do their own work. This way, an unusual silences comes in relationships and the personal touch is lost.
But here, is the role of an ideal parent. The poet is shaking the consciousness of the parents in the next part of the poem. He is informing about the ill effects the TV set causes to the lovely children. The TV sets make the children dull , and spoil the important senses in the brains of the child. The imagination and creativity is also jammed and the innovative thinking is also dead. The TV sets show the clutter which impact the thinking of the child. The child stops thinking in his or her own and only fusses on the facts and knowledge he gets from the TV, his own sense of creativity is lost in this case.
The childhood fantasies, and fairyland and other lovely features of the child get killed and dead because of the TV sets. His thought process stops and corrodes as if it is filled with rust and freezes. After all, their brains stop wolfing in their own. The brain is developed only to the extent what they see and learn out of it. Their own senses of thinking is kind of dead.
The poet is next, focussing on the dilemma suffered by the parents. The parents understand that the televisions are of course not good for the development and growth of their children, but then what should they do to entertain their children? The substitute for televisions needs to be thought about, which is as entertaining at the TV sets and even overcome the flaws which TV has. The answer to this is quite simple. In order to get the answer, the parents should take their thinking far before what this TV sets was invented. In the good old times also, children used to get entertained as well without the TV sets. The poet is taking everyone to the past and emphasizes on the best part time of the children to be the books. The children used to and now also, should read real good books in order to entertain themselves. There are so many great books which were and now also are available for the children to read and learn.
The children should focus on reading the melodious rhymes and other story books. Earlier they used books everywhere, on the books shelves, in the study room, bed room, lying on the bed and floor….everywhere. The poet laments how the children of old times used to be engrossed with these stories and other books. That good old times of books were so great, the poet cherishes his past and now requests the parents of present days to throw away the television sets and instead get those old book shelves and lovely books back to its place. Children should have a lovely books shelf hanging on the wall, which will increase the beauty of the wall. And then only the shelf is not enough, it should be filled with books and many books. This action by the parents will not be liked by the children at first and the children might oppose to this by different actions like screaming, shouting and even worse. But the parents should not be afraid from this revolutionary action of the children. Things will settle down on its own in some time.
When there will be no TV, and nothing else to do, children will of course need some thing for entertainment, and then will come the time when they will grab a book and start to read the same.
And once they will start operating the books, the real joy will come then. They themselves will understand the joy of reading and soon will gain interest. These books will make its own place in the hearts of the children and they will become fond of reading. That will be the day when they will realize that they had been wasting a lot of their precious time in watching the television. They will understand the worth of the books and how worthless was watching the television. The children will soon realize that you did wonderful thing for them by throwing away the television and instead installing the lovely books to entertain and teach them so much. The children will love you (parents) all the more for throwing away the television and brining them near the books.