A Critical Analysis of Stealing by Carol Ann Duffy
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A Critical Analysis of Stealing by Carol Ann Duffy The first thing I noticed about Stealing was the question on the first line, this immediately tells us that he/she is talking to someone (or is perhaps being interviewed), however, because the poem is a monologue, we never know who. Neither are we told the gender or age of the thief, which I think all adds to the air of mystery the poem has. The thief doesn't give a particular reason for stealing but gives ambiguous comments which I have interpreted in a few different ways. Firstly the thief tells us of several things he/she has stolen, the strangest of which is a snowman. Many of these, we are told by the thief are 'things which I don't need,' which is why we can question what exactly the thief is trying to steal and why. After all what exactly is the thief trying to achieve by stealing a snowman? We are told that 'part of the thrill was knowing that children would cry in the morning', so perhaps metaphorically the thief sees the snowman as someone's happiness and is in fact trying to steal someone else's happiness for himself.
Because the poem can be interpreted in several ways, the plot can be quite confusing. However I think this is intended as the last line asks us whether we understand a word of the poem, and quite honestly I feel that it doesn't really make sense until you read it a few times. Carol Ann Duffy made it a confusing poem in many ways, firstly the whole idea of stealing a snowman is quite strange anyway and secondly the poem is written in an odd way. The first 2 paragraphs are about the snowman and are very matter of fact yet the third doesn't mention it at all and is more of a glamorised view of how the thief sees him/herself. 'I am a mucky ghost' he/she sees him/herself to be mysterious, unnoticed and feared and the image of a 'gloved hand twisting a door knob' is almost like a scene from a horror movie. After this verse we move back to the snowman, but we don't really now this until the snow is mentioned. The scene changes very quickly, one minute we're in a stranger's bedroom and the next minute we're back in the snow - I found this quite confusing.
My overall opinion of the poem is very good. I think it's quite a challenging poem which you have to think about to understand, and even then you can't be sure whether your interpretation is correct. There are many questions about the thief's identity which you can only guess. The end question is quite an odd way to end a poem and is not the sort of ending which I expected. It leaves you wondering who the thief is questioning. I think because it's quite confusing, some readers would be put off by it, as you have to think about what's going on. I was slightly disappointed by the vague ending, I was expecting some sort of consequence to the thief's actions. When I read the title I was expecting something a lot simpler but it's more than relevant to the poem. It's a very clever poem about the way a thief thinks and why they steal, the slice of ice in the brain seems very psychological and is a clever way to describe the coldness or selfishness in someone's mind. I therefore think that Carol Ann Duffy's idea of a thief is quite accurate and realistic and the reason we don't fully understand the poem is because we'll never fully understand why thieves steal.
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