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A Critical Analysis of Carol Ann Duffy's 'In Mrs Tilscher's Class'

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A Critical Analysis of Carol Ann Duffy's 'In Mrs Tilscher's Class' In Mrs Tilscher's Class by Carol Ann Duffy, many issues are addressed about her class that play a part in explaining the subjects of the poem. To begin with the content and subjects of the poem are based around a school year in Mrs Tilscher's class. Her entire class is trapped and enthralled during the school day. They are taught information, into intricate detail. For example the poem begins with the line, 'you could travel up the blue Nile with your finger'. This simply begins the world of imagination to which each and every child is subjected. Straight after that, the poem goes on to describe how the children are chanted the scenery of the world by Mrs Tilscher. She remarkably inserts images of geographical places, historical events and general knowledge firmly in the children's brains. 'Tana', the great dam, 'Ethiopia', the last great King, Haile Selassie, 'Khartoum', where General Charles Gordon was assassinated on the step of the embassy and Lord Kitchener stepped in to relieve him at the siege. The great 'Asw´┐Żn' dam was known about and also the great pyramids of Egypt. Children viewed books as enthralling, fascinating and enjoyable to read which was remarkable for children of such different backgrounds. Carol Ann Duffy often uses short, sharp sentences in this poem to get her message across quickly and clearly. ...read more.


Finally the final stanza is perhaps the key verse. 'A tangible alarm made you always untidy, hot, fractious under the heavy, sexy sky'. This quote is once again emphasising the children's natural sexual inquisitiveness as they gradually become aware of their hormones. 'You asked her how you were born and Mrs Tilscher smiled, then turned away'. Mrs Tilscher and her children are in a state of innocence and what they ask is exactly what she tries to protect them from. She doesn't want them to become in contact with the outside world so therefore she is not going to tell them, as she does not want them to know. It is clear that Mrs Tilscher is looked on with affection and that she loves them and doesn't want them to grow up. The term comes to an end, all are impatient to grow up and gain more freedom, and prosper within the high hopes of their lives. 'You ran through the gates, impatient to be grown, as the sky split open into a thunderstorm', the sky splits, they are impatient to grow up and enjoy themselves. However it is clear that they do not know what quite to expect as a lot more comes with adulthood than meets the eye, for example life is complicated, decisions have to be made and many, many responsibilities are given to you. ...read more.


The poet has clearly made a division in the middle of the poem to emphasise the change, from good to bad. At the end of the poem, the metaphorical storm has been gathering since July. The 'sky splitting open' suggests that knowledge and adulthood are nothing but a shock. YOU are subjected to the shocks of the thunderstorm of adulthood which all have to pass through. This is known as a rite of passage that everyone has to pass through. There is no obvious sense of rhythm nor is there a rhyming scheme in the poem. The sentences do not seem to flow clearly. This is probably because there are so many short sentences. Each line is about seven words long and very descriptive. This gives the impression that once again, great detail is used. 'The scent of a pencil slowly, carefully shaved', the use of alliteration here creates an atmosphere, which is so familiar to the readers. It is almost as if the reader finds it possible to enter Mrs Tilscher's class just by the picture the poet paints in the poem. This poem is very true and realistic, as it happens to everyone, it is a rite of passage. The children leave Mrs Tilscher and remember her with great affection, as it is the end of an era, which shall never be forgotten by anyone who was taught by Mrs Tilscher. You grow up, from age to age, until you reach the 'thunderstorm of adulthood' which all have to contend with. ...read more.

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