In “The Mouse’s Petition” Anna Barbauld offers a deep poem that can be interpreted many different ways, with elements of Politics, and human nature, scientific studies, and animal abuse. She focuses on writing something that can be of use for people of all ages, from all over the world. Through tone and personification, Barbauld teaches about ethics, power, and mercy. The poem is brilliant and interesting because no matter who is reading, they can all interpret it differently depending on what the reader wants to compare it to, as it sets an a broad example for many areas.
The use of tone sparks sympathy in the reader, and the crux of the matter is how, and where that sympathy is felt, on the side of the mouse, or the scientist. While the poem seems like a children’s story, with closer analysis we can see that Barbauld intended her writings for multiple purposes of human nature, implying the use of perspective.
Through strong tone in the voice, the readers can feel sympathy for the mouse, which is interesting because one could just see as Barbauld trying to teach kids morals of right and wrong, but if we look closer the reader can see that the mouse symbolizes the common person and how they are viewed in the eyes of government. For example, Barbauld writes as if she is trying to spark ideas about how governments are controlling areas of life. The author writes “For liberty that sighs” (2) showing that she believes that the common person is looked down on by the government, seen as another dependent they have to take care of.
Knowing the mouse symbolizes the public one can realize at the end of the poem it gives up hope, leaving the fate in the hands of the higher power controlling him. This is relevant because as an individual, we stand no chance against the higher authority. Implying that we should not be manipulated by any authority, and to fight for ourselves in anything that has value to our beliefs. However, it could also imply that we as independent thinkers should not sigh over the fact that someone may not believe that same as you, and to not become the very authority she portrays as evil. The narrator says “Casts round the world an equal eye / and feels for all that lives” (27-28) indicating to view everyone as equal and to think about both sides of any situation.
Additionally, the implications Barbauld uses in the poem gives great detail of the opinions she has of government. For example, lines such as “The well-taught philosophic mind” (25) and “tremble lest thy luckless hand” (35), with the symbolism help of the mouse and scientist, suggests that government is manipulative and trains their subjects to believe they are the true authority. Mind control in a sense that they put off an illusion of greatness, and wanting to be feared. This suggests that Barbauld wants the readers to think out from higher authorities and look at signs of corruption, and to be weary of signs of manipulation and mind control. However, she could argue that the government is the unlucky one, and that the people have the luxury of getting to believe what the authority wants them to, and they have to bear the burden of truth. This reveals a sympathetic side to Barbauld, showing that however one decides to view the poem they will feel the sympathetic vibe.
With many thoughts easily comparable to government, the reader can see that Barbauld could also be using this for animal rights and the use of scientific testing. This would be the most obvious meaning for the poem as it is what the story is about, but she could be writing for the sides of the scientists. When people consider animal testing they think about how awful the scientists are and the cruel studies conducted at their hands. The poem argues for their side, as they are humans with emotions as well. For example the narrator says So, when destruction lurks unseen, May some kind of angel clear thy path, And break the hidden snare. (45-48)
She speaks of the scientist as an angel, to free the mouse from the restraints. Although what the scientists do is wrong, that does not mean that they want to be doing it, just because the mouse is caught in a bad situation he cannot change, could equally be the same case for the scientist, and the reader can see this when he lets the mouse go. This comes to show that Barbauld makes sure to view each side from both perspectives. This is brilliant because everyone should learn to look at life in this way. Of all the issues people have in the world, or in their personal lives, if one were to step back and analyze the situation from all sides most issues would end up working out without someone getting hurt. As a controversial argument the can spark the reader with the emotions needed to be effective in understanding the authors reasoning.
“The Mouse’s Petition” has many different meanings over many different topics whether it be government, or science related. The main idea that stands in all the perspectives is to be sympathetic and to always look at situations from all perspectives. The way Barbauld is able to make certain emotions stand despite the way they are viewed is phenomenal. Whichever perspective one decides to view this poem from they can always see that it pays to be sympathetic and companionate, and to analyze a situation before you act upon it. “The Mouse’s Petition” gives a lesson for people of all ages, from all around the world to take and gain experience from.