Carol Ann Duffy Poems
The Ways Speakers are Created in The Laboratory and Havisham
In the poem, ‘Havisham’ by Carol Ann Duffy written in 1993 and the poem, ‘The Laboratory’ by Robert Browning written in 1844. In ‘The Laboratory’, the speaker is portrayed as insane. Meanwhile, this is evident in the use of imagery, adjectives and rhyming. In ‘Havisham’, the speaker is conveyed as insane. This is apparent in the use of juxtaposition, metaphors, onomatopoeia and the use of the title.
In the poem, ‘The Laboratory’, the speaker uses imagery of murder to convey the narrator’s insanity. The line, “she would fall shriveled” suggests that she fantasizes of what she can imagine the woman’s death will be like. This makes the narrator sound insane as she is dreaming of murderous thoughts. The use of “would” suggests that the narrator is thinking ahead in the future and is already planning for the poisoning to occur. The use of “shriveled” suggests that she wants to make the woman completely lifeless and wants to make her weak so the speaker can have power over her. In addition, the line “her breasts and her arms and her hands, should drop dead!” suggests she is wanting this death to eventually happen to whoever is with the taken man who she loves. The use of “should” suggests that she is very sure of how powerful the poison will be and that the speaker wants this to happen with a passion. It’s almost as if she is too sure of herself. The use of alliteration in “drop dead” emphasizes the fact that the narrator wants the woman dead. The use of the plosives in the “d” sound creates a harsh tone, conveying violence and therefore, emphasizing how badly she wants the women dead. Lastly, the use of the “!” suggests her excitement over the death which is extremely gruesome. This makes the speaker sound insane as she is fantasizing ways for her to kill somebody in order to desperately get with the man she wants to be with. Also, Browning makes the speaker sound insane as she uses adjectives with positive connotations to display how fascinated she is by the poison. She describes it as a magical treasure and wants to ensure it is as beautiful as it can be. The line, “the exquisite blue” suggests that she holds respect for something so dangerous. The use of “exquisite” suggests that she thinks highly of this poison. Something this deadly is not supposed to sound as if it is delicate and beautiful. The speaker suggests the poison withholds the same qualities as something extremely expensive such as gold or treasures. The fact that she is trying to beautify the poison conveys her insanity. Furthermore, the line “sure to taste so sweetly” suggests that she is going completely insane as the poison is supposedly tasty. The use of “so sweetly” suggests that she is saying the poison is supposed to be similar to candy and because she is so fascinated by it, she makes it sound enticing – as if she is convincing herself the woman’s death might treat for herself. Also, the fact that she uses the word “sure” suggests that she is so intrigued by it, that she might possibly want to try it or she has already fantasied about it a lot, that she can imagine what it tastes like. This makes her sound insane because it is unusual for someone to convince themselves that a killing weapon could be like a treat. Lastly, in ‘The Laboratory’, the use if rhyming suggests the poet is trying to convey the insanity of the narrator by creating a song or a chant for her wish upon someone’s death which draws attention to the narrator’s insanity. For example, the words ‘head’ and ‘dead’ are emphasized as they are used to rhyme and therefore impact the reader the most, portraying her insanity. Additionally, ‘pain’ and ‘remain’ leave a great impact on the reader as they have murderous connotations showing the narrator’s insanity.
In the poem, ‘Havisham’, the speaker is presented as insane because of her own feelings juxtaposing one another. In the poem, a semantic field of love is created using the words, “beloved sweetheart” “honeymoon” and ‘veil’. The use of “beloved sweetheart” suggests that she thinks deeply and is longing for him because the speaker utilizes such heartfelt words to describe him, however, he left her. The use of “honeymoon” suggests that she wanted their love to be continuous and for them to stay together forever. The use of “veil” symbolizes the wedding and therefore connotes love. This also suggests that since she still has the veil on from a long time ago, that she still holds these loving feelings for him which makes her insane as she has not gotten over the event. These words in the semantic field make her sound insane because she juxtaposes her own feelings. She has conflicting feelings which create a semantic field of hate. These words, “wished him dead”, “strangle”, “curses” all convey the hate which she also withholds when thinking of him. The words “strangle” and “curses” suggest her hatred, however, they also hold connotations of murder. The use of them could suggest she has gone so oblivious to how insane she has become, that she wants to possibly kill the man for what he has done to her. This is then proven when the speaker says “wished him dead”, to suggest the severity of how much she fantasizes over her hate and her possible revenge. It could be a way for her to cope, so that she could make herself believe that he died so she could never be with him. The idea of her hating but loving the man which left her, suggests that she has gone insane. Additionally, metaphors and onomatopoeia are used in the poem Havisham portray insanity. The phrase, “red balloon bursting” could be a metaphor to represent her love life. The use of the colour “Red” connotes love or anger which could also represent her contrasting feelings about the man. The balloon could symbolize her heart or represents how her love was almost carefree and floating – like how a child would feel and think. Moreover, the “balloon” could suggest that there was a party (the wedding) and could hint that the decorations have still not been taken down. The use “bursting” could suggest that suddenly, it was all taken away from her; the man leaving her could have been this shock. It does not suggest how the balloon burst however, if it were her it could evoke the idea that she believes she destroyed and broke her heart because of herself. As if it was herself to blame. Also, it represents her heart, and how it was broken. In addition, the line following this, “Bang. I stabbed at a wedding cake” also conveys that the speaker has gone insane. The use of the onomatopoeia in “bang” is emphasized because she uses it as a one-word sentence. This suggests how the sudden it was for her ex-fiancé to leave. The “wedding cake” could symbolize the event and the party and the fact that she used the word “stabbed” to describe it, suggests how much she now despises it. This makes her insane because it is odd for someone to stab something withholding such positive and joyous connotations. Also, the use of “I” is used as if she was talking about herself in the third person, and as if she is recalling this event of what happened. This makes the speaker sound insane because it is not normal for one to talk about themselves in this perspective. The poem ‘Havisham’ was created from the book Great Expectations. The fact that it does not include the word ‘Miss’ hides her gender and emphasizes on the fact that she does not have a husband for her to replace her maiden name. This shows that the reader feels sorrow for her constantly, as she was not loved therefore leading her to her insanity.
To conclude, Duffy is arguably conveying the severity of how one event in your life can alter your life to such a great extent that is almost uncontrollable. Additionally, Browning is trying to critique how love can take over and control your life no matter the consequence involved when getting your way.
The Poetry of Carol Ann Duffy (Prayer, War Photographer, Havisham, Valentine)
Carol Ann Duffy is well known Scottish poet and playwright and is considered one of the most representative, contemporary, widely read and loved poets of her time. She began writing poetry in 1970 and her first adult collection of poetry was published in 1985, and since has written over 46 works. She has won multitudes of awards for her work, such as the Scottish Arts Council Prize in 1993 and the Costa Book Award in 2011. Due to her tremendous list of awards, she has been appointed the Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Duffy is known for her long monologues that amplify the consuming relationships of human interaction. Her common themes include representation of reality, the construction of personality, contemporary cultures, oppression, and social inequality.
In Duffy’s poetry, the central speaker either has reliability on their spirituality, or on a relationship. The concept of reliability is the quality of being trustworthy and consistently performing well. It is often used in scientific experiments when referring to your set of results, however; in this case, reliability is having the hope that either spirituality or a relationship has the ability to be your rock in a tough situation. Relationships are “the way in which two or more people or things are connected”. It relates to the way in which two or more people or groups regard and behave towards each other. In contrast, spirituality is a “having sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves”. This varies dramatically for everyone. For some, it is having spirituality in God or for others, a spirituality in something higher. Both spirituality and relationships conceptualize the ability to be connected to something that isn’t yourself, yet they both hold different levels of dependency. From researching Carol Ann Duffy, the concept of spirituality has been a constant since she was 15, which is when she declared she was an atheist. But throughout her life, she has come to the understanding that “poetry and pray are very similar”, which has clearly shaped her works. However, she has had many conflicts regarding her relationships, as she has been with both men and women which is been a large contributing factor to the style of her poetry.
To compare the reliability of spirituality versus the reliability of relationships, I have chosen four of her poems to analyse, to fully gauge an understanding of just how dependable spirituality and relationships can be. In regard to spirituality, I have chosen Prayer from the “Mean Time Collection”, and War Photographer from her collection titled “Standing Female Nude.” To encapsulate the reliability of relationships, I have chosen Havisham from the “Mean Time Collection” and Valentine also from the “Mean Time Collection”. Through analysing these four poems, we will be able to indicate the accuracy of spirituality and relationships.
Prayer by Carol Ann Duffy was published in 1993 as part of the “Mean Time Collection”. It is one of Duffy’s most popular and discussed poems and is presented in the form of a Shakespearean sonnet about the various reminders of prayer that we receive in our everyday life. In Prayer, the speaker alternates in every stanza, and all these speakers are in a time of trouble. Throughout the poem, Duffy uses words and phrases as sound devices that tug on our auditory imagery such as; the rhythm of a train, the sound of piano scales, or the familiar routine of the radio shipping forecast. Duffy has chosen this specific rhyme scheme in an effort to imitate the song like nature of an actual prayer. Within Prayer, every stanza has a different element of rhythm and varied musical elements. The poem includes lines such as “the minims sung by a tree” or “the distant Latin chanting of a train” which again appeals to our auditory senses. The “radio’s prayer” mentioned in the second last line is referring to a BBC radio shipping forecast, which continually happens every morning, showing a further sense of reliability just as a prayer should have. Furthermore, the tone in the pome shows the speaker’s reaction to the given event that may be happening. Their reactions speak greatly to the reliability of humanity, as throughout the poem many references to prayer are made. Why is it that people with little to no faith still call out for God in times of need? If they are trying to invoke an external force, why do they not call on their belief of choice? Even for Duffy to write a poem of spirituality being an atheist herself, it questions what typical humanity relies on.
Additionally, War Photographer was published in the 1985 collection titled “Standing Female Nude” and Duffy describes the experience of a photographer who witnesses the terrible crimes against humanity, and who brings them back for us to see. This poem raises many vital questions about the reliability of humanity such as ‘how should we react to terrible suffering in other countries’ or ‘why does a feeling of sadness not provoke a sense of action?’ Although War Photographer raises these important questions, it does not answer them in any way, shape or form. Throughout the poem, there are subtle links to spirituality as a juxtaposition to the traumatic events he saw. Duffy uses symbolic associations of ordinary words such as “darkroom” and “only light is red” which describes the developing of photographs but also describes church tabernacle lights and paints a blood red image. Duffy alludes to the fact that this photographer perhaps did have faith previous to viewing the atrocities of war yet has been turned away due to the unfairness of warfare. There are many biblical suggestions in this poem as well such as “all the flesh is grass” and “blood-stained into foreign dust”. This theological imagery is effective in not only projecting the adherence the photographer feels towards his occupation but also because, like a priest, he too is often exposed to demise and torment. It is clear that the photographer in this poem had a large role in publicizing the atrocities of war, and he has become numb from this experience due to the fact that “they do not care” and no one has made a change.
In contrast, Havisham was published in 1993 as part of the “Mean Time Collection”. This poem tells the story of Miss Havisham from Charles Dicken’s novel “Great Expectations”. It explores Miss Havisham’s mental and physical state after being left at the altar by her lover decades before. This piece shows the repercussions of having a reliability on a relationship, as the passionate tone shows that the devastation of love has stayed with her. In the poem, many oxymorons are used such as “beloved sweetheart bastard” and “love’s hate” which portrays the uncertainty and restlessness of the speaker. By using beloved and bastard as alliteration, it further shows the conflict she entails. Duffy juxtaposes the idea of love with many violent themes in this poem, as Havisham’s bitter rage is still with her. There are many illusions to the anger that she holds; such as “dark green pebbles” showing jealousy and hardening emotions. Also, “curses that are sounds, not words” suggests she is so angry she has become inarticulate and no longer has the ability to recover. The angry emotion towards her failed relationship is again shown by “a male corpse” suggesting she would rather see him dead than have him reject her all over again. Havisham shows the unreliability of relationships as we witness a woman who seems utterly broken by an act of misfortune.
Furthermore, Duffy wrote Valentine in 1993 and it offers a bizarre and unconventional approach to the traditional yet commercially driven idea of Valentine’s Day. This poem expresses affection and tenderness through the unorthodox persona of an onion. This poem challenges the convention of a variety of levels, as Duffy writes a love poem that completely avoids any language even somewhat associated with love poetry. This poem takes a new stance on the reliability of relationships as it describes love as “a moon wrapped in brown paper” which is a metaphor that connotates hope, light, and innocence whilst depicting control of the currents of love. The single lines and one-word responses such as “take it”, “lethal”, “here” and “like a lover” allow the reader to pause and think about the repercussions of love. The poem is written as a lonely confession full of daring promises and considerable statements such as “for as long as we are” or “its platinum loops shrink to a wedding ring.” Both these portray the sense that perhaps their love won’t last or diminish to a dangerous, impermanent promise with nothing left to lose. Duffy has created a pivotal transition between conventions of love, yet still shows the beauty in having a relationship to rely on.
Through analysing Prayer, War Photographer, Havisham and Valentine it is clear that the basis of Duffy’s poetry does centralize around the reliability of spirituality or the reliability of relationships. After contrasting the nature of these works, one work has fallen in favour of each concept. Prayer depicted the elements of spirituality that fall into our natural responses in troubled times. However, War Photographer showed just how unreliable spirituality can be as the atrocities of humanity such as warfare still occur. Havisham shows just how reliable humans can become on a relationship, and how this often falls through leaving you alone. And Valentine shows the pulling nature of love and the beauty behind having a relationship. After comparing both spirituality and relationships, having a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves seems more compelling than a connection between two people. I came to this conclusion due to the fact that humans have more of a tendency to be unreliable, and therefore holding strength and trust in something other than human interaction forms a more dependable conclusion. For most people, having a connection extending the reliability of human interactions seems to prove more sustainable in the long run; which directly connects with Duffy’s feelings towards the matter.
Through exploring Carol Ann Duffy’s poetry and comparing the reliability of spirituality verse the reliability of relationships, the long monologues that amplify consuming human interaction fall in favour of spirituality. Throughout her 46-odd works, direct human interaction has a tendency to fall short of being the constant that the speaker needs to depend on. To quote Duffy… “She stood upon a continent of ice, which sparkled between sea and sky, endless and dazzling, as though the world kept all its treasure there; a scale which balanced the strength of poetry and prayer.”
Charles Dickens’ character in Havisham by Carol Ann Duffy
Miss Havisham one of the main characters of the novel “Great Expectations” written by Charles Dickens in 1860. Miss Havisham is a wealthy woman who was left at the altar by a man named Compeyson who defrauded her. Humiliated and heartbroken, she remained alone in her mansion, Satin House, never removing her wedding dress, leaving the wedding breakfast and wedding cake uneaten on the table, wearing only one shoe, and only letting very few people see her. Furthermore, she also had all her clocks stopped at twenty past nine as it was the exact time in which she received Compeyson’s letter leaving her. Duffy then took this main character of the novel and wrote the poem “Havisham”. Duffy named the poem “Havisham” instead of “Miss Havisham” to create some distance between the poem and the novel as well as to remove any reference to the characters gender as she may be jilted between male and female to show with a deeper meaning how she is not either and therefore has lost her role in life. The poem is made of four stanzas that do not rhyme which helps create a more defined and realistic voice.
Stanza one starts with “Beloved sweetheart bastard” which reveals in a clear way that the poem is going to focus on the confused hatred she feels with an oxymoron. The alliteration of the b’s, one with a positive connotation and one with a negative connotation, emphasize the irony. This line also makes it seem like she’s just spitting words out, which shows furthermore how she is expressing the hatred and anger she’s feeling and this bitter tone is continued throughout thi2 whole poem. For the duration of the whole stanza we see how she is paralyzed in time and in the rejection she went through, and therefore curses her former lover lengthening the hatred. By saying that she hasn’t wished, but prayed for his death it further explains the depth of her hatred and anger. She’s done so so hard that her eyes have become “dark green pebbles”. She exposes the darkness of the poem and in a way of herself. Green is portrayed as the color of envy while the imagery of the pebble shows how her soul is now cold, dead and hard. “ropes on the back of my hands I could strangle with.” this line shows how much she would want him dead, and personally strangle him with the “ropes” which are actually the veins on the back of her hand which also shows how her temper and anger continue to raise.
Stanza two starts off with a one-word sentence, “Spinster.” which is a word used to describe an unmarried woman who is typically over the usual age for marriage which shows how Miss Havisham is feeling isolated by a society which often defines women by their marital status and to emphasize this more, Duffy isolates the word. She then goes on to describe her new role in society which is to “stink and remember” giving us the impression that she has completely given up on herself and life. The “yellowing” dress is used for negative associations like decay and her emotional atrophy. “The slewed mirror” suggests that the mirror is not facing her which represents her inability to face reality as her reflection would be evidence of her aging as well as seeing the reality of things meaning that what she once knew has now become unfamiliar.
By starting the third stanza with a sentence from the previous one, it emphasizes the tension and anger of the poem as it gives it a sputtering feeling which is used to reinforce the persistence of her suffering. She uses the color “puce” as it gives negative associations of disease. “sounds not words” is used to accentuate her loathing as her hatred has left her quiet and speechless and incapable to speak her emotions. In the next two lines we notice a change of tone, and we get a hint of her more forgiving side, where she also shows how things have drastically change by contrasting what she said before as her tongue is now “fluent”. The use of the indefinite article “the” instead of the possessive pronouns “his” or “its” shows how she is trying to distance herself from him and denying him of his humanity making it easier for her to keep on hating him. She then brutally returns to the present, where by using the word “bite” she reminds us of how regardless of the passing of the years, her anger has remained as it was when she was first abandoned. It also may infer that she bites her tongue in her sleep expanding on her inability to pronounce what she is feeling to him and that she may be fantasizing about causing pain on her ex-lover.
Again in stanza four, Carol Anna Duffy links to the previous stanza with two opposing words “Love’s, Hate” to create an oxymoronic expression. This exposes how the two contrasting words are actually indistinguishably linked between each other and how there is something unique and controlling about this unambiguous and permanent type of hate which is triggered by this betrayal of love. The “white veil” is associated with the purity and innocence that she now hides behind, which she soon contrasts with “red balloon bursting” representing her heart and hatred that is destroying her which she cannot continue with. The alliteration of the “b” highlights how her dreams were violently and permanently crushed by the shock of her experience which is shown by the isolation of “Bang”. She continues throughout the stanza with another violent image as she is “stabbed at the wedding cake” which contrasts the usual positive associations to it. She does this again in the next line with disturbing feelings as she says “Give me a male corpse for a long slow honeymoon” where she, yet again, disrupts our usual joyful associations to the honeymoon and transforms it in a much darker image. The final line of the poem “Don’t think it’s only the heart that b-b-b-breaks.” Is more poignant, where the last word is broken up to imitate the sound of the speaker breaking down in agony at last and to highlight the extent of her emotional and mental collapse.
In conclusion, we see how hate is the only emotion she is able to feel and that although this may be a negative thing, it’s what prevents her from being entirely numb and therefore is preserving her loathing so she has a purpose in life. The tone throughout the poem is bitter and acidic, and shows how fast love can be exchanged with hate and vicious thoughts, which is supported by the brutal imagery she exchanges. It gives an insight into “Miss Havisham” mind giving clear thoughts on how it feels to get jilted.
Little Red Cap Poem Summary and Analysis
Today I’ll be analysing the poem ‘Little Red Cap’ which is a part of collection ‘The World’s Wife’ by Carol Ann Duffy. She links fantasy with real life experiences and writes poetry on feminism and aims to empower women. Little Red Cap is a poem similar to her style of writing in which she focuses on how a young woman takes control over her sexual awakening in her own hands. The text was published in 1999. She relates this to the folk Little Red Riding Hood and the poetry flows with the story. The poetess uses intertextuality with the folktale ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ making connections throughout the poem with the folktale.
The poem shows female empowerment as well as in the poem, even though the wolf seemingly leads the way, it is the little girl who takes responsibility of her sexual awakening throughout the poem. In the end she comes out of the forest as a learned young woman who is completely prepared for the adult world.In the very first line the poetess indicates that she has exited childhood. She feels that everything has lost its structure. Childhood is a phase where children have rules and strict time table to follow and reaching teenage they’re all broken, it refers to the part of life where rigidness disappears. The silent railway might suggest the starting point of her journey and she finally reaches at the edge of the woods may resemble end of her world and about to enter a new world which is yet to be discovered. As she enters the new world, she sees the wolf for the first time. It isn’t the wolf personified as a man rather the man in the poem is symbolized as a wolf. Her tone of voice gives a feeling of excitement and how she was impatient to discover the new world.In the second stanza she describes how the wolf was clear, he was transparent and had no hesitation to express himself. His appearance seemed confident to the character. She was stunned by his appearance, the tone of voice in the second stanza while describing the wolf’s teeth, eyes and ears gives a feel of the poetess’s attraction towards him. She sounds attracted and amazed by the wolf’s appearance. She made sure she gets his attention, this shows that she had everything under her control which breaks the stereotype of men controlling and dominating over women.
The character lacks sexual experience but she knows how to get his attention and play when it comes to her own game. She mentions that the wolf bought her her first drink. This correlates to her sexual experience and her first experience of being a woman. In the next line the poet uses hypophora, where she asks a question and immediately answers it. She knows the wolf would lead her, here even though the wolf seems to be taking control over the character, she knows what she wants and is prepared for it, she willingly follows. She is being led in a world she has never seen and this could mean she is being led by the wolf to an unexplored world which she is excited to gain an experience of. The poetess says ‘away from home’ in the next line which symbolizes the completely leaving her childhood and approaching maturity, reaching the dark, dangerous adult world, which she eagerly waits to see. The owls in the next line refer to the knowledge and wisdom the character possesses. She crawled in his wake clearly shows that she wasn’t forced and it was all done in her consent. The act of her stockings being ripped shows loss of her virginity and innocence and childhood. The poetess says she lost both her shoes which shows her lost ability to walk away. The first line of this stanza uses rhyme, the poetess says she learns a lesson that night which could probably mean she gains an experience that night and learns about things of this nature. The next line is a metaphor for her close relation with the wolf. This stanza shows her clarity on gaining what she desires, the lines clearly say that she was the one who clung to his thrashing fur. She enjoys the experience, and says who wouldn’t love such an experience in the line ‘what little girl doesn’t dearly love a wolf’. She in her naivety feels that she should enjoy this experience and she tries to convince herself that she must enjoy such an experience because that is what she has always been told. Towards the end of this stanza, she searches for living bird- a white dove which could possibly mean ‘love’ to replace lust. In the next stanza she says how the ‘bird’ goes from her hands to the wolf and dies within his one bite.
This also shows the wolf’s greed. The damage to white bird is the destruction of any possible chances of taking the relationship above the level of lust. This makes the character realize the wolf’s reality after which she emotionally moves on and waits for the wolf to sleep for her to explore more of this world. She creeps away not in fear or regret but rather in the excitement to explore more.In the next stanza she reflects how naive she was ten years ago and had no knowledge and was so inexperienced. And now that she walks through the forest, she has the knowledge of differentiating a corpse beneath the mushrooms, it took her ten years to gain this knowledge and be able to differentiate.
Further she says the wolf would humm the same song of the same rhythm every night, every season, and now the wolf no longer suits the little girl who walked in the woods ten years ago. Now that she has gained knowledge and become a mature woman knowing herself better than before realizes that the wolf isn’t suitable for her anymore. The last stanza ended with the character being violent and as she took the axe starts experimenting more and is impatient to gain more knowledge of the nature around her, the world around her. And she takes the axe to the wolf and just within one chop she ends his dominance on her. The destruction of the wolf’s scrotum signifies the destruction of his further generation and sexual skill. The poetess uses grandmother as a metaphor to describe all those female victims of the past. The words ‘glistering, virgin white’ describes their goodness and purity. She comes out of the forest with a mask of innocence, singing, happy, as a learned young woman ready to enter adulthood. Finally, she is alone and doesn’t need a man and can rejoice in her independence.
Challenging Female Stereotypes through Poetry (Carol Ann Duffy’s Salome)
‘Duffy challenges traditional female stereotypes through her portrayal of Salome’ How much do you agree with this statement?
In the poem Salome Duffy challenges the traditional female stereotypes through her portrayal as Salome takes a dominant role in the short relationships she becomes engaged in. Salome was the daughter of King Herod in the bible and demanded John the Baptist head on a plate. Instead of the exploitation of women Salome takes a role reversal and uses the men she meets to fulfil her addiction of killing men.
The poem suggests that Salome is the type of character that sleeps with loads of men, “Simon? Andrew? John?” The names mentioned in the poem are the names of disciples signifying how highly Salome regards herself. Salome also says that she should “turf out the blighter” showing she’s in control, also displaying the power she has over the man she has slept with, compared to the normal stereotypical women who would be given the orders not giving them. Duffy also uses Salome to degrade men and imply they are not very intelligent going against female stereotypes. The simile “like a lamb to the slaughter” illuminates to the idea men are stupid and are easily seduced and don’t think about the consequences of their actions. It goes against the ‘dumb blonde stereotype’ of women and men perhaps are also guilty of this as well. The predatory nature of Salome is also uncharacteristic of women, who are generally seen as the weaker and feebler of the two sexes.
“I needed to clean up my act” “cut out the booze and the fags and the sex” indicate her life as meaningless and insufficient as these are slang words and fail to produce class or real pleasure in their meaning. Showing she does them more to fit in rather than through enjoyment. The format of the final stanza is structured differently compared with the previous stanzas. There is no specific format in the stanzas as they are set out carelessly with no real direction or rhyming scheme, representing the woman’s causal approach to what she did perhaps highlighting the fact that not all women are organised and in control of their lives.
However Duffys writes that Salome “rang for the maid” which shows stereotypical female characterisations are present. The fact that it is a women who must bring her breakfast in bed highlights that not all women are like Salome. The everyday words such as “fags” “booze” and “butter” are mixed in with the idea of the killing giving connotations that Salome sees this control over men as an everyday theme. The slang and colloquial language show she is unfeeling and carelessness which is unusual for a women.
The Rhyme scheme is full of –er suffixes and this playful tone masks the sinister tone of violence which is an ongoing theme throughout the play. The word “batter” could be a reference to domestic abuse, however that is reversed as it is Salome who kills the man.
To conclude I agree with this statement as Duffy does challenge female stereotypes by making Salome take on the characteristics of a stereotyped man. She takes on a violent and commanding tone, ordering her maid and beheading her lover. She does not act like a stereotypical women, would perhaps cleaning or following her lover’s instructions she is the complete opposite.
Carol Ann Duffy’s Havisham. Poem Analysis
Close analysis of Havisham
The poem ‘Havisham’ is a dramatic monologue based on the character from the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations. She has been left at the altar but still remains in her wedding dress and hates men because of the act. She talks about her feelings for the man who left her and how it affects her now.
In the poem ‘Havisham’ there is no distinctive rhyme scheme. However there is a small amount of slant rhyme, in line 9 the two words “Puce” and “Curses” sound similar but do not rhyme. Some internal rhyme is used as the poem moves towards its ending “awake”, “hate”, “face”, “cake”, “breaks”. This highlights Havisham chaotic mind-set and leads us to believe she is mad, as her head struggles to make sense of what is happening in her life.
The poem is titled just “Havisham” without a Miss. This lowers Miss Havisham’s social status, making her unimportant and unworthy. It also draws attention to the fact that Havisham is her maiden name. She hasn’t taken on her husband’s name because she never actually married him. It’s a constant reminder of her sad, sad life. The repetition of the word ‘I’ implies that Miss Havisham is self-centred, however in the second stanza Miss Havisham refers to herself as “her” and then “myself” immediately after, which creates the impression that actually she does not her own identity and is unsure where she stands in society, she is also calls herself a “Spinster” which in Victorian times was a derogatory term for an unmarried women, so is frowned upon in society. Miss Havisham perhaps takes on Carol Anne Duffy’s own voice as Miss Duffy herself is in a lesbian relationship perhaps also does not quite know where she stands in society either.
From the outset the poem the structure of the poem looks simple. Four stanzas each with four lines long that are all similar length which implies that the speaker is in control of her words. However once we start to read the poem we see that all is not well. The poem is full of enjambment “Beloved sweetheart bastard. Not a day since then” as well as “ Miss Havisham keeps stopping and starting her speech, making her sound as if she’s not quite in control of her words again highlighting the inner madness boiling up inside of Miss Havisham.
The sound of the enjambment makes the poem seem unnatural. The last line has a long stuttering breaks “b-b-b-breaks” it sounds like the words are being forced out of Havisham’s mouth which again creates the impression that Havisham is not in control of her mind. The alliteration of the harsh B sounds in line 1 “beloved” and “bastard” and again in line 13 and 14 “balloon bursting” and “Bang.” These similar sounds make it seem as if she’s repeating sounds that she can’t quite get out of her muddled brain. The alliteration as well as the enjambments pop up in unexpected places. It’s as if we never know what’s coming. At any moment, Miss Havisham could really lose her grip on reality, but somehow she just manages to cling on.
Throughout the poem there are large amounts of imagery of death and suffering as this explains the thoughts and feelings of Miss Havisham. Miss Havisham uses a metaphor, imagining that her eyes have become green pebbles and her veins have turned into ropes for strangling. Green is often considered the colour of jealousy and greed. The veins and ropes have a deathly meaning: these body parts are about pain and imprisonment. In Line 16 we’re told that it’s not only the heart that’s capable of breaking. “Don’t think it’s only the heart that b-b-b-breaks”. Love doesn’t just affect us emotionally; we feel it in our organs as well and with Havisham it seems her mind has also broken. More colour imagery is shown “white veil; a red balloon” the white of the veil seems to symbolise innocence that Miss Havisham once had, but the red of the balloon shows the anger inside of her that lies now. Imagery of violence is shown throughout as Miss Havisham “stabbed at a wedding cake” taking her anger out on anything that reminds her of what she could have had. The oxymoron of “sweetheart bastard” again reinforces the image of hatred towards her should be husband.
The constant themes of violence and death in the poem symbolise the madness that now resides in Miss Havisham. “Give me a male corpse” and “wished him dead” are examples of this. The poem also shows the idea that love and hate are close together – the two words are separated at the end of the third stanza and the beginning of the fourth. Havisham both desires and hates the man in the poem.
Carol Ann Duffy’s The Long Queen. Poem Critique
The collection of poems, named ‘Feminine Gospels’ is a biblical reference, however it is roughly translated as the teachings of feminism portrayed through Carol Ann Duffy’s beliefs to give readers a wider perspective of the female identity. In ‘The Long Queen’, Duffy makes reference to issues later discussed in the Gospels such as childbirth, patriarchy, love and loss which give readers an instant view into the later poems featured in the collection.
In ‘The Long Queen’, Duffy describes how the ‘Long Queen’ (Queen Elizabeth) suffers but is celebrated for her role in looking after her ‘children’ and being mother to all women; for example when she writes “What was she Queen of? Women, girls… No girl born who wasn’t the Long Queen’s always child.” From this, Duffy is saying how Queen Elizabeth as a monarch took on the role of a mother to women as her duty to protect and guide her people. As she chose not to marry a man and therefore lose her position as Queen, her figurehead role as a strong, independent woman is further emphasised as women being independent was unthinkable of the time. This starts of a theme of women’s independence which is carried out throughout Duffy’s Gospels. For example in Tall, the woman presented in the poem’s height becomes exaggerated, being “taller than Jupiter, Saturn… the Milky Way”. This woman becomes so tall that men are intimidated by her height as she is therefore in a stronger position than them – “he turned and fled like a boy”, showing that Duffy thinks in this society, once given/being in a position of power, only then are women respected or seen as fearful.
Certain words in some of the stanzas have been written in italics; such as “Childhood”, “Blood”, “Tears” and “Childbirth” to represent key events in a woman’s life cycle. As in italics, the words are immediately gripping to the reader who (if female especially) can resonate with experiences and emotions attached to these words. Such issues being discussed in the first poem shows how suitable it is to begin the collection as they are extremely relevant in later poems such as ‘Tall’, ‘Work’, ‘The Diet’ and ‘Beautiful’. For instance, the main character in Work nurtures a continuously growing amount of children who consume the world’s resources, which Duffy does not see as a positive thing as it contradicts how nature is trying to prevent this by not allowing some women to have children. This is important as Duffy is trying to present a message that childbirth; although essential for society to function, is not needed for all, and perhaps it is not a bad thing if some women cannot reproduce naturally. Also, relating back to the childbirth references in The Long Queen, Duffy uses graphic and dynamic words/phrases in the poem such as “screamed” “bawled” and “slithered into their arms” to show how heavy a topic childbirth is, therefore dedicating ‘Work’ to it.
Although Duffy includes several topics in the first poem of the collection that reappear as main topics in her other Feminine Gospels’ poems, not all Duffy writes about is included. Modern dilemmas for women, such as the pressure to conform to modern society’s ideals aren’t all included; i.e. in ‘The Woman Who Shopped’, the main message Duffy conveys is that consumerism has reduced women to products of a capitalist society, whereby society has become unnatural in that women are being force-fed messages of the need to have the latest products, so unnatural in Duffy’s opinion that she writes “Birds shrieked and voided themselves in her stone hair”, showing nature’s reaction to the character’s shopping addiction. However, such an issue is not referenced in the Long Queen showing how as an introduction, it does not account for all of the main themes spoken of in the Gospels and therefore can be argued isn’t a suitable introduction to represent the Duffy’s collection.
The Long Queen was chosen by Carol Ann Duffy due to its general summing up of her beliefs of the female identity, to which she clearly explains throughout the collection in detail – giving views on issues from the past and present. These ‘summing ups’ prove The Long Queen is indeed a suitable introduction to the collection as it shows the different ways women suffer in a patriarchal society and how feminine idols from history such as Queen Elizabeth still don’t lead a life without pain due to the fact that they are women.
Can Carol Ann Duffy’s “Little Red Cap” Be Classified as a Fairy Tale?
Most of us have a clear perception of what fairy tales are, or what we assume them to be. Over the past century, these tales have been burdened with so many clichés, such as evil queens’ curses and damsels-in-distress, that we tend to identify them based on the presence of such clichés. The fairy tale scholar Kate Bernheimer suggests that when trying to determine what a fairy tale is, clichéd themes play an insignificant role. According to her, a fairy tale’s most distinctive qualities are its underdeveloped characters, nonsensical logic and lack of description. Her aesthetic and unrestricted definition allows broad interpretation of what constitutes a fairy tale. However, since most popular fairy tales do seem to consistently share certain formal characteristics, such as a narrative structure, simple imagery and superficial characters, it is easy to assume that if a tale does not follow a similar outline then it is not a fairy tale. “Little Red Cap” is an autobiographical poem, by Carol Ann Duffy, which presents a female perspective on Little Red Riding Hood whilst outlining Duffy’s relationship with an older man. Often, people do not identify it as a fairy tale because it lacks several features that fairy tales are commonly associated with. In “Fairy Tale is Form, Form is Fairy Tale,” Bernheimer states that the four “formal components (though there are others) comprise the hard logic of tales” (64). By adding “though there are others” in brackets, she allows modification of her definition. Through examining it through the lens of Bernheimer’s ideas, I will show that “Little Red Cap” by Carol Ann Duffy is a fairy tale.
Flatness is the first aspect Bernheimer listed as an identifying feature of fairy tales, and Duffy uses this technique as well, albeit limitedly. Flatness refers to the “absence of depth” (Bernheimer 66) in characters which allows readers to engage with the text. According to Bernheimer, flatness is used so that the audience can be more engaged and imagine certain character attributes. Duffy, however, uses flatness for metaphorical reasons. For example, the grandmother could be considered a flat character since she is only mentioned once: “I took an axe to the wolf as he slept, one chop, scrotum to throat, and saw the glistening, virgin white of my grandmother’s bones” (Duffy 4). She is a symbol rather than a personality; the phrase “virgin white of my grandmother’s bones” is a metaphor for the generations of women who have been oppressed by men. “Glistening virgin white of my grandmother’s bones” denotes that all the oppressed women have been free and regain their pride. Therefore, Duffy’s poem uses flatness to allow people to engage with the text by allowing them to relate to it. Although “Little Red Cap” does not use this technique exactly as Bernheimer described, it does successfully use flatness to promote audience engagement.
Although Duffy does not use the same approach that Bernheimer describes, her poem achieves the same goal that fairytales do. Bernheimer lists “flatness” as one of the key aspects of a fairy tale since “it allows depth of response in the reader” (67). The assumption underlying her claim here is that one of the features of fairytales is that it allows deep responses from readers, which Duffy’s poem also does. Firstly, the allegorical nature of this poem allows readers to interpret the man, on whom the “wolf” is based, in their own manner. Duffy provides her audience with the choice to either read the story superficially or delve into the underlying meanings and explore the characters on a more personal level. Secondly, the poem uses imagery to invite a reflective response from the audience. For instance, the descriptive lines “I crawled in his wake, my stockings ripped to shreds, scraps of red from my blazer…I lost both shoes but got there” (3) exemplify Duffy’s use of intricate imagery and complex syntax in order to invoke a response in the reader. This sequence of events outlines Little Red Cap’s journey throughout the poem: she falls for a dominant lover, the relationship strips her of her innocence, she kills the wolf and loses the last shred of her purity, but is able to free herself. This is just one of the many interpretations hidden within “Little Red Cap”. Although Bernheimer states that flatness provokes a deep response, Duffy does the same through her well-rounded poem.
Bernheimer declares that in fairy tales, “things happen that have no relevance apart from the effect of language” (68), and the same applies for Duffy’s “Little Red Cap”. Fairy tales generally use intuitive logic to create an uncomplicated story which doesn’t encourage readers to question the events that transpire. In contrast, Duffy’s version uses the technique to encourage deeper understanding of the work. In the poem, the protagonist “took an axe to a willow to see how it wept” and “took an axe to the wolf as he slept” (Duffy 4). This statement is an example of nonsensical syntax in the poem. First Little Red Cap was talking about how life with the wolf was becoming monotonous, as he grew older, and then suddenly she was talking about cutting things open as well as killing the wolf. The willow and salmon have no significance to the story of “Little Red Cap” but is important in terms of language. A salmon is often seen as a symbol of determination. Here, Duffy wonders how far she would go to get out of the situation. Not only does the rhyming pattern of “wept”, “leapt” and “slept” enhance the momentum of the story, but it also foreshadows the violent turn that the story is going to take. The symbolism and use of rhyme shows the effect of language. Through using intuitive logic to prioritize the effect of language, Duffy’s poem adheres to Bernheimer’s definition of a fairy tale.
Bernheimer believes that in a fairy tale is a story which “enters and haunts you deeply” (68), and Duffy’s poem does this through its nature. Unlike most versions of Little Red Riding Hood which focus on unrealistic events, this poem presents a situation that many readers have faced. In the poem, Duffy gives a voice to the protagonist who has been silenced. This is especially relatable for women who have been in relationships with men who don’t understand or listen to their opinions. Moreover, Duffy shows that the romance and adventure of a new relationship fades with time, and this is something that many adult readers can associate with. In addition to this, the poem also suggests that Duffy’s creativity and poetic talent were suppressed during this time. The violent and sexual nature of the poem, and the haunting images that Duffy paints through her unique poem definitely constitutes a story which haunts you deeply.
Throughout the book “Fairy Tale is Form, Form is Fairy Tale”, Bernheimer makes statements that are not explicitly included in her definition of what constitutes a fairy tale, but are indeed aspects of fairy tales. By examining these statements carefully, we can modify Bernheimer’s definition and adapt it to describe the modern retellings of classic fairy tales. Duffy’s “Little Red Cap” utilizes flatness and intuitive logic, two of the four components Bernheimer listed in her book, and fulfills the same goals as fairy tales. Hence, “Little Red Cap” adheres to the unrestricted definition and is classified a fairy tale.
Bernheimer, Kate. Fairy Tale is Form, Form is Fairy Tale. 2014.
Duffy, Carol Ann. “Little Red Cap.” The World’s Wife. Print. London: Picador, 2000, pp. 3-4
The Presentation of Suffering in “Remains” and “War Photographer”
Within Remains, Simon Armitage, who is widely known for focusing on physiological health and for creating a documentary of young soldier in the height of the conflict occurring in Afghanistan, presents the theme of suffering through the personal view of a young, regimented soldier, by sharing a scene which had clearly left a pit of guilt and had caused physiological health problems such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is because he the man he “and somebody else and somebody else” shot a man who was raiding a bank, however he was “possibly armed, possibly not” which has sparked uncertainty in the soldier’s mind, filling him with guilt as he may have shot an innocent man. Comparatively, Carol Ann Duffy, a social critic and holder of the title of Poet Laureate, conveyed suffering by focusing on the memories and flashbacks that a photographer experienced whilst developing his photos “in his darkroom” that he had taken during the wars. The war photographer clearly makes an experienced attempt at detaching himself from the “hundred agonies in black-and-white” so he can focus on the work at hand as a desperate coping mechanism, however a certain memory weaves its way to the front of his mind as he remembers “the cries of this man’s wife” and reconnects with a very important moment for the woman – her husband’s death.
Symbolism is used by Simon Armitage within Remains to describe the way “this looter” was haunting the soldier’s memory and was appearing everywhere, effectively ensuring that the young soldier wouldn’t even be able to enter “the doors of the bank” without entering a living flashback. The soldier’s memories of the bank appear to represent a bursting river bank, where the sweeping current of his memories are too strong to compress at the sight of the bank he regularly visits for his own use because his immense war experiences have impacted his mind so much so that anything holding the slightest resemblance to his regimented past will bring the memories flooding back. The ex-soldier seems to be suffering from PTSD after a horrific incident which left him wondering if he had murdered an innocent man with “somebody else and somebody else”, or if the soldiers had been correct and killed somebody who was potentially about to harm a lot of people. Repetition is also used earlier in the poem to describe the way there is no escape from the self-condemnation that the looter was “probably armed, possibly not”. Because the soldier cannot even sleep without nightmares of this man, it causing him to turn to self medication with “drink and [drugs]” and even that, still won’t “flush him out”. The fact alone that he is using “drink and [drugs]” show that the man is no longer in the army, whether he left of his own accord or not, the soldiers would have been regularly examined for these things, although they were not tested for mental health issues and so did not receive any help on this element. The alliteration used, further indicates a lack of support he received because he should have been talking to a therapist about his mental health issues, although 0.4% of military money goes towards the mental health of soldiers, making it unlikely his illness would be noticed. The way the soldier describes the “[looter]” as alive indicates that he lives on in his memory.
Furthermore, the metaphor Armitage uses to state how the dead man appears everywhere without exception conveys ideas that both the looter and the speaker were victims, although for different reasons. Because the man is “in [the soldier’s] mind when [he closes his] eyes”, it gives the impression that the mental health issues almost become something that’s utterly inescapable from.Colloquial language is also used by the soldier to describe how the soldier felt towards the shooting, feeling as if the victim’s “bloody life” ended because of his “bloody hands”. The adjective “bloody” that was used to describe the dead man’s life implies that the young man felt solely responsible for “[ripping] through [the looter’s] life” and killing him. The grief he feels is reflected in his mental health issues, another of which could be OCD. The soldier could literally imagine the man’s blood on his hands again and have caused his own hands to be bloody because he’s washed them so much that he’s torn the skin. A living scar is something his mental illnesses could be seen as, almost as if it were branded into his skin that he killed this man. The grief cursing through the soldier’s body forces him to constantly ask himself if he’s a murderer which could be why repetition of the adjective “bloody” is used. The idea of monotony and repetition causes thoughts that mean the speaker relives the event “again” and “again” and “again”. This adverb indicates that there’s no escape from the thoughts and by naming the dead man simply as a “looter”, it implies that the soldier’s thoughts can’t be put to rest because this man is identified and anonymous, meaning that he can’t visit his grave or apologise which only makes more regret surface. The dead man was “left for dead in some distant, sun-stunned, sand-smothered land or six-feet-under in desert sand” which offered no peace for the speaker because he could not even be certain that the man he killed had even had a proper burial. The sibilance creates an effect that draws attention to the quote, implying ideas of discontent and no closure, meaning that the dead man will forever be haunting his mind and causing him health issues because he can’t be “[flushed] out”.
This contrasts to the “half-formed ghost” that “[starts] to twist” before the subject’s eyes in War Photographer by Carol Ann Duffy, because although the metaphor also holds no detail in the “stranger’s features” (conveying ideas of anonymity and a death that resembles the hundreds of others that the photographer has witnessed), the permanent stain of life that remains from “blood stained into foreign dust” allows the photographer to revisit the deathbed of the innocent man if he searched enough and wished to. However, despite the fact that the photographer could pay a visit to the place this took place, he walked away because it happened elsewhere, although the memories were things he was unable to leave in the foreign country, along with the mental marks of war. The metaphor also implies that the blood of the innocent man had literally soaked into the ruined ground like an irremovable tattoo of life.Duffy also uses sibilance, symbolism and juxtaposition to describe how the spools of photographs morph into “spools of suffering [are] set out in ordered rows”. The rows suggest a clear military link, representing the “ordered rows” soldiers would report to in the army, which is symbolism as it serves as a form of order within fields of chaos. A graveyard could also be interpreted as the “ordered rows”, symbolising the huge loss of life and happiness that occurs throughout war. The sibilance in the powerful phrase “spools of suffering” validates ideas of life loss and the rows and rows of it show the small segment of it that James Nachtwey has captured in his spools of film. The quote also contains the juxtaposition of ideas that suffering is everywhere, thrown around in unorganised chaos, making everything violent and forcing innocent people to suffer, whilst being logically laid out in “ordered rows” like the armies that attempt to prevent and stop the wars.
James Nachtwey is the war photographer being described. His aim was to capture and show to the world the true horrors of war, disprove the propaganda, show how many innocent women, men, children and families were being caught up in the loss and suffering. He wanted his work to inspire and support families affected by war, making his photographs an “antidote to war” and a way of “negotiating peace”. His photos are a “protest to help other people join the protest” against war and propaganda. Nachtwey is aware that people see his work, and proceed to ignore it, or not do anything about it. He is aware that “they do not care” and simply continue with their daily lives, choosing to be ignorant and naive towards the real horrors of war that is masked by propaganda. This is partially because his editor will “pick out five or six” from “a hundred agonies in black-and-white” which show the least suffering, but still he continues to board “the aeroplane [where] he stares impassively at where he earns his living”. The metaphor used to describe the amount of suffering and agony found in Nachtwey’s photographs of war elicits ideas that the photographer is “alone” in a room filled with so much suffering, pain and death that he simply cannot detach himself anymore. The “black-and-white” photographs filled with “[agony]” implies that there were hundreds of lives that couldn’t escape from the war they shouldn’t have even been involved in. Enjambment is something Duffy also uses in the second stanza of her poem when stating how Nachtwey’s hands “did not tremble then/though seem to now”, which conveys feelings that when the photographer was surrounded by death, he could control and detach himself from his feelings towards the people dying in front of him because the camera acted as a shield, a protection against the real world so it almost seemed as if he wasn’t there in person. It portrays ideas of vulnerability when alone, as well as implying that true terror is felt when there is no support around, or nobody to see your act fall to pieces.
The colours and imagery used in the adjectives conjure images of truthfulness, because black and white are colours generally associated with raw, hard truths. It is also as if the room holds its own hundreds of memories of war, which is why it depicts such emotions of vulnerability of the unarmoured, alone photographer. Because Nachtwey was alone, it meant he couldn’t detach from everything, he wasn’t protected from the violent memories being bombarded his way because he wasn’t ever protected from sounds by his lens, and although he hoped the memories of war and pain wouldn’t come home with him, they did because he “remembered the cries” of a wife that gave her wordless consent for her husband to be photographed in his last dying seconds.
“After I no longer speak”; A Message on the Impact of the Holocaust in “Shooting Stars”
Humans inflict suffering on other humans and when events are forgotten, they are repeated. In the poem “Shooting Stars,” Carol Ann Duffy tells a shocking story of a female prisoner held by Nazis in a concentration camp around the time of the Holocaust. This is a poem in which human suffering is being actively portrayed. Duffy uses a cryptic title together with effective imagery which explores the theme of human suffering. General connotation applied to the phrase “Shooting Stars” is that a star is falling or the beauty and brightness of fireworks representing women of the holocaust.
‘Shooting Stars’ is written in the perspective of a Jewish woman who was killed during the Holocaust. The woman speaks to another woman about the atrocities they had endured as Jewish people, and how despite all hardships, faith still remains. Structurally, the poem is in uniform. It has a title followed by six stanzas of four lines . The poem is also placed in the exact center of the page which may express the uniformity of the war. Immediately establishing darkness and horror in stanza one, Duffy begins the poem with “After I no longer speak.” This sets the readers off with a strong image of silence and death followed by even more horror, “they break our fingers.” Before using traditional Jewish names, she uses conflicting images of the wedding band, a symbol of eternal love, trust and profit through juxtaposition. This exposes the courage that the women went through with calmness when they faced death.
In the second stanza, Carol Ann Duffy addresses the women as “upright as statues.” This represents women as individuals who look straight ahead awaiting the bullet of death with courage. Intensifying the imagery of never ending violence, the repetition of the word ‘Remember’ impacts and addresses the reader personally. In addition, the repetition of ‘Remember’ echoes in our head like a guilty conscience, it may represent the last word of a human being in the hands of incompetent young men. The demand of the writer in this stanza is to remember the suffering losses because she does not want the world to forget. Therefore, if we forget and don’t change our ways, the world will be “forever bad”. With the persona of this poem being a victim of the holocaust, narrative given from the point of view of one of the sufferings allows the reader to appreciate the scale that inhumanity can inflict.
Starting off the fourth stanza with a contrast of “preparing to die” next to “a perfect April evening,” it sets the mood of a perfect evening while people are suffering and others smoking next to a dead man’s grave. The second last line of the fourth stanza includes the onomatopoeia ‘trickled’ which represent the urine trickling down his legs as his last amount of dignity. ‘Click’ and ‘trick’ represent the sounds of a gun. Perhaps, this is a ‘trick’ of pretending to shoot but using an empty bullet chamber while toying with the lives of those already suffering.
In the next stanza, Duffy consistently uses the word ‘after’ to describe that after the ‘immense suffering’, ‘terrible moans’ and the holocaust is over, people will go back to their normal lives before the holocaust and do the things that they normally do. She reminds us that the enormity of the holocaust has made little impact because in the present day, humans are still savouring the suffering of other people. Perhaps the purpose of Duffy adding “tea on the lawn” and “a boy washes his uniform” is to highlight and contrast the size of the horror by including civilized human activities. With ‘Sara ezra’ meaning we all forget too quickly, the action of shoveling soil is to represent humans covering up the past.
The Jewish victim is turning to God and trusting in him. ‘Turn thee unto me with mercy’ but even when the Jews ask for the rest of the world to be merciful, their wish has still not been granted. The poem ends on a notes of tragedy back inside the concentration camp. This emphasises the extent and immensity of this event, while even strong men are unable to tolerate the hardships that these women went through. The victim is desolate for she does not know where she is going.
In an attempt to offer both historical and human perspective, Carol Ann Duffy wrote this poem in order to show how much the Holocaust has impacted people severely, and others not at all. It also places emphasis on how powerful faith is, and despite so many hardships and atrocities people still keep faith. Even in the midst of horror, the persecuted can still believe that God is out there looking after them.