Imagery and symbolism in Tom's Garland

A difficult image is that of the garland, which we perhaps associate with festivity. Here Hopkins uses it symbolically, talking of two garlands, a gold one for the head (the ruling classes) and a steel one for the feet (the labourers or ‘Tom Navvy'). They both designate honour, the honour of ruling or the honour of working.

In the light of this, unemployment is the worst sort of dishonour, for two reasons: it shows the ruling classes have failed in their duty, and so deserve dishonour for themselves, too, and it does psychological harm to the working man (‘Despair'), and foments political trouble (‘Rage,/ Manwolf, worse; and their packs infest the age.')- a strong ending.

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