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Compare and contrast the way in which 'Stealing' and 'Education for leisure' show how human beings can react to being unhappy.

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Compare and contrast the way in which 'Stealing' and 'Education for leisure' show how human beings can react to being unhappy. Carol Ann Duffy, author of 'Education for Leisure' has written a powerful poem that explores the mind of a disturbed person, who is planning murder. We do not know if the speaker is male or female, though this barely seems to matter. What we do know is that he (or she) has a powerful sense of his own importance, and a greater sense of grievance that no one else notices him. Carol Ann Duffy has also written 'Stealing', which is in the first person. The speaker is obviously not the poet. The author writes sympathetically in that she tries to understand this anti-social character but he is not at all likeable. ...read more.


The speaker in 'Stealing' is portrayed as a sadist because he commits his crime on purpose with the full knowledge of his/her actions will hurt others. The cruelty and selfishness of his/her actions is the motivation for the theft. This is shown on line 9-10, "Part of the thrill was knowing that children would cry in the morning. Life's tough." He is using this as an excuse for his actions, absolving self of blame. He is also feeling that he is doing the children a favour by teaching them about the 'real world.' This is exactly the same case for the person in 'Education for Leisure' as he squashes a fly against the window with his thumb, flushes the goldfish down the toilet and then at the end of the poem sets out to kill a human. ...read more.


There is a lot of isolation in both the poems. In 'Stealing', in line13 it says, "I'm a mucky ghost," this tells us that the person is like a spirit and is outside of society and is unacceptable. He has a "gloved hand" which shows separation from his victims and it acts as a barrier between himself and these others in society. This is similar to 'Education for Leisure', where "The cat avoids" him as well as the radio station cutting him off. As an explanation of how criminal violence happens, the poems are clear enough and quite convincing. Carol Ann Duffy portrays a character we may recognize from fiction and from real life reports in both poems. It has much common with 'Stealing', though the criminal, while very unsympathetic still seems vaguely in touch with other people. The speaker in 'Education for Leisure" lacks the criminal experience and low cunning of the thief in 'Stealing'. He is weaker character by far, but less predictable. ...read more.

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