James Honeyman is a Ballad that follows the life of an isolated and ostracized protagonist - illustrating his profound scientific discorveries and the effect they have on his family. The story follows Honeyman's life of isolation up until the point that he creates a powerful weapon through science. This bomb is then used on his own country killing. not only himself, but also his wife and child; "killing those you love". Auden ends the story woth the death of all characters - creating a direct correlayion between the eponymous protagonist's isolation and his death.
The story is told through a bildungsroman account of Honeyman's life; "Honeyman was a silent child". This is significant as it allows Auden to highlight the link between lack of social contact and its psychological inflictions on Honeyman's life; "he went to a childrens' party... sat there dissolving sugar". Moreover, this bildungsroman structure highlights how Honeyman is consumed by hubristic scientific desires his whole life, to the point that they destroy him. The entire story is told in a linear chronology without any analepsis or prolepsis throughout. This is significant as it reflects the monotony and simplicity of Honeyman's demeanour. Throughout the childhood of Honeyman, his life is significantly condensed into four simple stanzas. This allows Auden to sugget a lack of fulfilment in adolescence. Moreover, in the denouement of the story, time is significantly elongated; "where are you James, where are you". As the bomb hits, significant repetition and descritive language is implemented in order to inhibit the pace of the story. This is important as it further amplifies the significance of science in Honeyman's life in contrast to his brief childhood.
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