ChapterTelevision

The poem “Television” is written by the well-known English author, Roald Dahl. In this poem, he warns against the overwhelming impact of TV on young brains. He satirically highlights the detrimental effects of television on kids' creativity and imagination, imploring parents to think twice about putting their kids in front of screens instead of encouraging a love of books and literature.

Meet the Author

  • Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short story writer, poet, screenwriter, and a fighter pilot.
  • Born: 13 September 1916
  • Place of Birth: Llandaff, Cardiff, Wales
  • Died: 23 November 1990
  • Major Works: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG, The Witches, James and the Giant Peach
  • Best Known For: He is best known for his children's books, which have become beloved classics worldwide.
Television White Noise
Television White Noise

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Summary of the Poem

Dahl emphasises in the first stanza of the poem that it is best to keep kids away from television altogether and that it is best to keep them away from it altogether. This establishes the tone for the remainder of the poem, in which he describes the negative consequences he sees in kids who are always staring at screens.

They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they’re hypnotized by it,
Until they’re absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.

The author describes how television has a mesmerising effect on children, portraying them as passive and deeply engrossed in the content they consume, as if under a spell. He emphasises how their senses are dulled and the joy of imaginative play and creativity is taken away from children by this excessive screen time.

IT ROTS THE SENSE IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND

In these lines, Dahl often mentions how television fills children's heads with shallow stuff, preventing them from thinking for themselves or being creative. He cautions parents about the long-term effects of letting their children watch television unrestrictedly, using strong language to express the negative impacts on a child's mind and why they must let them use their imagination and remain curious.

'What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!’
We’ll say it very loud and slow:
THEY ... USED ... TO ... READ! They’d READ and READ,

Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl - Photo from Wikimedia

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Dahl anticipated parents' objections and proposed a solution, asking them to encourage their children to read books instead. He recalls a time when reading was the primary source of enjoyment for children, emphasising the depth of creativity and knowledge that books can provide.

"Television”, is a humorous yet critical and heartbreaking look at how contemporary technology affects a child's development. The author advocates for the rediscovery of the pleasure of reading, emphasising the necessity of developing children's imaginations and instilling a love of literature.

Here are the literary devices in the poem:
  • Hyperbole: Describes television in extreme terms, such as "rots the sense in the head" and "kills imagination dead."
  • Personification: Depicts television as an "idiotic thing" that influences children's behaviour.
  • Imagery: To highlight the seductive power of television, a child is described as "absolutely drunk / With all that shocking ghastly junk."
  • Metaphor: Thinking of the brain as "soft cheese" and its effects on thought as "rusty and freezing."
  • Alliteration: The use of consonant sounds more than once to emphasise a point; for example, "clogs and clutters up the mind."
  • Rhyme: The poetry follows a consistent rhyming scheme ‘aabbcc’, which improves its flow and readability.

Above and Beyond the Text

Did you Know?

The term "couch potato," often used to describe someone who spends excessive time watching television, was coined in the 1970s, around the same time Roald Dahl penned his poem "Television." This humorous yet fitting descriptor highlights the cultural shift towards sedentary lifestyles facilitated by the rise of television consumption.

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Television Questions and Answers

Below are a few questions that you can look out for your examinations and class tests. Stand out with perfectly written answers with help of Aneetta Class.

Negative Effects of Technology: The poem explores how children's cognitive and creative development are negatively impacted by excessive television viewing. Parental Responsibilities: Dahl emphasises how important it is for parents to keep an eye on and limit their kids' use of technology, encouraging a sensible screen-time balance. Celebration of Reading: The poem highlights the benefits of reading over passive television watching as a way to stimulate the mind while also celebrating the pleasures of reading.

In the poem Television, two prominent literary devices employed by the poet are hyperbole and personification. Through hyperbole, the poet exaggerates the negative impact of television, describing it as something that “rots the sense in the head” and “kills imagination dead,” highlighting the extreme consequences of excessive television consumption. Additionally, personification is used to depict television as an “idiotic thing” that has the power to influence children's behaviour, attributing human-like qualities to this inanimate object to emphasise its negative influence.

The main takeaways from 'Television' are the dangers of excessive screen time and the value of reading and creativity as priorities. Dahl calls on parents to acknowledge the detrimental impacts of television on their children's growth and to take proactive steps to reduce its influence. The poem endorses a return to the simplicity and richness of the natural world, free of modern technology's artificial distractions, by restoring reading and creative thought.