Finally finished my examination of “Elephant in the Dock”. Like this whole thing, it’s probably going to need a heavy edit before I finally release it, but here is a sample anyway:
The first line of the song sets the scene. The gallows stands tall over the platform where the accused shall plead her case, surrounded by instruments of imprisonment, like stocks and pillories [Pillory and stocks at the gallows tree dock]. A crowd has gathered and awaits this “trial” impatiently as a storm approaches [the crowd grew impatient, as the clouds threatened rain]. Mother Elephant is led in by the police constable with her trunk and ankles firmly chained [Elephant arrive at the constable’s side, with her trunk locked in shackles and her ankles in chains]. Let us pause now to examine this trial about to take place, and what makes it a complete sham. In any normal circumstance, a trial would be held in a courtroom in order to determine whether or not the accused is guilty. Mother Elephant, despite being innocent of any crime, is already at the gallows when they put her on “trial”. There is no possibility they will acquit her in this case. The trial is all a show, as the song will soon indicate.
The Bailiff announces the arrival of the judge, who arrives to a fanfare of trumpets [Bailiff: “All rise, All rise! His honor presides!” The judge took the bench to the village brass cavalcade.] This fanfare solidifies the image of this whole trial as merely a show to satiate the bloodlust of the villagers, who have worked themselves into a frenzy with their rumor-mongering about the train crash that we witnessed in “Grist for the Malady Mill”. In fact, the word usage here almost brings to mind a certain carnival atmosphere to the proceedings, as if there is a circus in town and the center attractions is the hanging death of a criminal elephant. One can almost imagine children eating cotton candy and tossing darts at balloons while the townspeople string up God Himself. Elephant calls them on it pretty quickly, and refuses to swear any oath they offer her [Elephant refused to swear the oath].