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To what extent do you agree with the view that Duffy presents the female characters in The World's Wife as victims? Refer to 2 or 3 of the poems we have studied so far in your answer.

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To what extent do you agree with the view that Duffy presents the female characters in The World's Wife as victims? Refer to 2 or 3 of the poems we have studied so far in your answer. Duffy very cleverly in "The World's Wife" gets famous myths and tales from the past and turns them around making them have a totally different meaning to their originals. Duffy refers to the women in "The World's Wife" as victims or outcasts. Duffy modernises the poems on a contemporary basis. In this way Duffy shows her own views and as how she sees the women in today's society, not as independent as they should be. Duffy's poems present women suffering for the consequences for the men in their lives. Some of Duffy's women are victims but aren't weak. Out of this collection the poems I will be studying and carefully looking at are Mrs.Quasimodo and Little Red Cap. The World and his Wife is a clich� that makes the World out to be a man, this is very sexist as the World is big and powerful and the wife is just the extra bit just added on in the end. Not every couple nowadays marry, some just cohabitate and not all couples are of the same sex. "The World and it's partner wouldn't create much arguments compared to this clich�. ...read more.


Mrs. Quasimodo overreacts because when he just looks at Esmerelda she talks about betrayal. Duffy presents the relationship of Mr and Mrs Quasimodo by the choices of words she uses and the images she uses. An example of this is that when Mr and Mrs Quasimodo are having sex instead of using pleasant images like making love, Duffy deliberately uses nasty images of sex "he fucked me". She describes her husband in a positive way for her that sounds horrible and negative to us. For her it's romantic. Duffy uses stereotypes in this poem by referring to Esmerelda as the perfect "pin-up" woman by this I think she means the kind of girl that men would fantasise about. The reader can sympathise with Mrs. Quasimodo of being a victim to quite an extent. The reasons why the reader could think of Mrs. Quasimodo, as a victim is that she feels unwanted, unloved, used, unhappy and hurt. She's insecure about her physical appearance. She's isolated from Community and then Quasimodo, as he loves Esmerelda. He's only with Mrs. Quasimodo because he can be with her and not with Esmerelda who he secretly loves. He hates Mrs. Quasimodo who knows about his love for Esmerelda. Mrs. Quasimodo's love justifies her actions of destroying the bells, which used to mean a lot to her this shows that in anger and frustration she is willing to destroy and damage what she admires since she was little which is ironic but ...read more.


The ending of the poem shows an optimistic assertion of female independence, as Little Red Cap is capable of the best possible way of being aggressive and forceful. Although some people might think that it's a sad ending and that Little Red Cap was messed in the head. Duffy portrays Little Red Cap to be a victim and all the evidence which suggests that is that she is trapped in a forest away from society, she's a victim of gender stereotyping and she has a boring life so she does extreme things to find herself however she's a rebellion which shows that she isn't a victim as she has just murdered someone. Little Red Cap and Mrs. Quasimodo are similar because both to some extent are victims and both to some extent are not. I don't agree with Duffy though, she's a feminist and usually all her poems are against men. Mrs. Quasimodo is biased and just wants the readers sympathy. She is a victim but in a way she's brought this on herself. She has destroyed the glory of Notre Dame. The bells were very important symbols of the city and she destroyed them because of jealousy and a way to get back. Quasimodo hadn't had an affair he had only looked at another woman. Mrs. Quasimodo is deviant. I don't think that Little Red Cap is much of a victim either because she has killed someone. Duffy has succeeded in proving that women can be independent in Little Red Cap though and in Mrs. Quasimodo she has proved that women can get revenge. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

This had the makings of a sound essay, but the writer needs to address the text in much more detail, consider the poems more comparatively and analyse the poetic form in more depth. ***

Marked by teacher Karen Reader 30/11/2013

Here's what a star student thought of this essay

3 star(s)

Response to the question

Despite this answer raising a lot of potentially valid points, the student fails to consistently link his argument to the question. Whilst the introduction deals with how the anthology as a whole portrays women as dependant, the link between women ...

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Response to the question

Despite this answer raising a lot of potentially valid points, the student fails to consistently link his argument to the question. Whilst the introduction deals with how the anthology as a whole portrays women as dependant, the link between women lacking independence and being ‘victims’ could be made clearer. Likewise the student’s argument, which deals with the two poems could be strengthened through a different structure- with first half of the essay explicitly comparing and contrasting ways in which Mrs Quasimodo and Little Red Cap are victims and the latter half arguing ways in which they are not. The student’s choice of structure instead creates a less concise argument which does not engage strongly with the question. Instead each poem is generally analysed in turn rather than strictly focusing on their basic points which have to be inferred. The student sees that Quasimodo is the victim of a loveless and unhappy marriage but that she is empowered in her position as the narrator and can seek revenge. Therefore, she is presented as an independent who can make the best of her unhappy situation, limiting the extent to which she can be viewed as a victim. A stronger response to the question can be seen in the final two paragraphs of the essay where the student’s judgement of Little Red Cap not being a victim is clear and some comparisons between these two characters are made.

Level of analysis

This writer’s level of analysis is undermined by a lack of exemplification or use of key literary terms. Each point should be backed up with quotes which allows them to engage with the question. Instead this essay contains numerous points which seem generic and have few explicit links to the theme of the female characters being ‘victims’. Other points lack development, for example the student is successful in recognising the internal rhyme in Little Red Cap but fails to explain the effect of such a technique or link it to the question, making the point irrelevant. The use of literary phrases such as ‘ambiguous’ would have been more beneficial than including questions within the essay- the writer would gain more credit by doing so as they would be demonstrating a knowledge of key literary terms and a level of understanding as to what devices Duffy used. If developed further, the writer could have then linked this point to the argument by exploring what Duffy was trying to achieve through doing this.

The levels of analysis would also have benefitted from a different structure where Red Cap and Mrs Quasimodo were explicitly contrasted. This way the writer would gain credit for analysing the characters both individually and together as victims. To hit the assessment objectives, the student would also need to show an understanding of the historical context surrounding these characters- the candidate’s knowledge of the fables does not demonstrate how throughout history women were dominated by their husbands, so even if they fought back, they ultimately can still be viewed as victims. This lack of exemplification and literary analysis weakens the argument as a whole so while the student shows that there is more than one interpretation and explains their own conclusions, their findings are somewhat vague. However, it is good that the writer included phrases such as ‘I don’t think’ as well as pointing out that different readers have different interpretations of the texts.

Quality of writing

The spelling, grammar and punctuation are all sufficient, although the essay could have benefitted from some proof reading for typing errors. Often sentences in this essay are too short as they fail to develop their points and back them up with evidence. Because of this, the use of technical terms is minimal throughout the essay and the few developed points have been explained somewhat informally, which is inappropriate for an academic essay. Overall, the essay contains an introduction, conclusion and body sections but would have significantly benefitted from an alternative structure allowing them to continually analyse and engage with the question and therefore improving the fluency of their argument. Similarly the argument would have been clearer if the student had continually referred to the presentation of the characters as ‘victims’ rather than treating the term as synonymous with being ‘dependant’. Within the structure which the writer chose, it is not immediately clear that the student has finished discussing Quasimodo and has moved on to Red Cap but on other occasions, it is easy to comphrhend who the writer is discussing.

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Reviewed by peachy800 04/09/2012

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