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Stealing by Carol Ann Duffy Analysis

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Archie Hicklin 'Stealing' uses first person and is written as a dramatic monologue, a well-organized narrative with the speaker's comments. 'Education for Leisure' is similarly written in a first person narrative by the speaker. In both poems the poet explores the psychology of an anti-hero/anti-social type character. In Stealing the character attempts to explain himself but reveals how far removed he is from 'normality'. We undoubtedly sympathize with the viewpoint, but he remains a disliked character, as the poem contrasts those who produce things and those who would only destroy them. The 'thief' wants to do things to escape his induced boredom but lacks the sufficient willpower and self-discipline to do them1. In Education for Leisure we see the similar aspects of boredom resorting to crime, and the psychosomatic delusion that brings both these characters together, yet, in contrast to Stealing we can feel that we are deep in the characters thoughts, rather than as a contrasting formed monologue. ...read more.


The thief is morally confused - he sees "not taking what you want" as giving in, as if he might as well be dead as accept conventional morality. He alienates the reader as he says that he enjoyed destroying the snowman because he knew that it would upset the children. He uses, "Life's tough", to justify this. Similarly in Education for Leisure the cold language and black humor forces the reader to despise and sympathize with the character creating such a bond of justification, that the language used seems to make the reader accept the actions performed by the character. The thief in Stealing begins as if repeating a question someone has asked him, to identify the most unusual things that he has stolen. The speaker is apparently relating his various thefts, perhaps to a police officer, perhaps to a social worker or CSO. ...read more.


Stealing the bust of Shakespeare is ironic in the first poem because he takes the image of someone associated with great creativity and yet the character probably does not appreciate what it stands for. "You don't understand a word I'm saying". The important word here is 'You' this isn't directed at the person our character converses with, yet, may be directed at the readers inability to truly understand the mindset behind the character. In Education for Leisure we can see a repeat of this technique when the character touches 'Your' arm, granted, a more direct reference to involve the reader than that of Stealing. Both of Duffy's poems are rather bleak and almost suggest that anti-social behavior is almost inevitable. The speakers see the consequences of their actions but disturbingly have no compassion for the victims they involve. _______________________________________________________ 1. "Mostly I'm so bored I could eat myself. One time, I stole a guitar and thought I might learn to play." ...read more.

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