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Carol Ann Duffy - In Mrs Tilscher’s Class.

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Introduction

In Mrs Tilscher's Class In her poem 'In Mrs Tilscher's Class', Carol Ann Duffy effectively uses many language techniques to convey the changes that occur in a schoolchild's outlook and maturity as they grow older. The atmosphere of the poem changes as a result of this. The poem is about a young child and how she views school and learning in different ways as she grows older. We are shown the uncertainties children have about adolescence and starting High School. Stanzas 1 and 2 are set in the orderly but relaxed atmosphere of the primary school classroom, where the children in Mrs Tilscher's class seem to be interested in their work and are enjoying themselves. One of the most noticeable features the poet has used here is the use of senses, which is fitting because it is through the senses that young children learn many things. They can see the map and touch it, "travelling up the Blue Nile with their fingers" whilst hearing Mrs Tilscher chanting the scenery. The children can use their imaginations and picture themselves travelling in their minds, and the chanting is also a positive thing. ...read more.

Middle

Not even being at school can erase these difficult issues from the child's mind entirely - she is beginning to realise that some of the more unpleasant parts of life cannot simply be ignored and forgotten about. However, we can tell how young and na�ve the children still are when we are told that 'Mrs Tilscher loved you.' This is a simple and childish way of looking at things; not the kind of way a more mature youth would describe something. The excitement at finding Mrs Tilscher having "left a gold star beside your name" continues the idea of immaturity further. At the end of the second stanza, the use of senses is noticed again as the child smells the "scent of a pencil, carefully shaved" and hears a "xylophone's nonsense from another form." Personification is used to make the noise coming from the xylophone sound positive, coming back once more to the idea of a cheery mood. The mention of 'another form' could be an indication that the children are starting to look ahead, and that they are keen to learn to understand the 'nonsense' that they hear from the xylophone. ...read more.

Conclusion

"Sexy" is unusual way to describe the sky - we see her trying to become more grown-up and experimenting with new, more mature-sounding words. She feels "fractious," irritable and restless and not knowing what to think. Mrs Tilscher, whom she has "loved" and trusted for so long, "smiles and turns away" when she asks how she was born, leaving her feeling alone and rejected, contributing to a negative atmosphere. In the second-last line, the child "runs through the gates, impatient to be grown" showing us that now she is desperate to leave the school, quite in contrast to the start of the poem where she would have given anything to be there. The poem is ended with a metaphor: "the sky split open into a thunderstorm." This change of weather comes as a relief - "heavy, sexy sky" implies an upcoming storm and everything is cleared up meaning a new start can begin. The storm also signifies the unsettled moods the child is likely to experience during adolescence - the rain could be illustrating the fact that she is crying inside. In conclusion, I find that Carol Ann Duffy has successfully adopted different language techniques, especially metaphors and the use of senses, throughout to convey the changes that occur in a child when progressing through their school life. ...read more.

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