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Compare the way in which poets create a threatening or menacing atmosphere in four poems. Write about 'Salome' by Carol Ann Duffy and compare it with one poem from Simon Armitage and two from the pre 1914 bank.

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Introduction

Monday17th January 2005 Timed Essay (1hour) Compare the way in which poets create a threatening or menacing atmosphere in four poems. Write about 'Salome' by Carol Ann Duffy and compare it with one poem from Simon Armitage and two from the pre 1914 bank. The poem 'Salome', by Carol Ann Duffy, is written in the first person, seemingly from the perspective of a woman given indicators such as the fact that the person has been involved intimately with a man; 'the reddish beard'. The first three lines of the poem, all of which uses enjambment, only come to make sense as the poem is read, meaningless on their own. Carol Ann Duffy then immediately establishes an ominous ambience to the poem with the line 'woke up...head...beside me'. The odd singularity of the head being mentioned by itself, as opposed to a body or person suggests that perhaps the head is indeed detached from its body, a suggestion that is later confirmed. The first stanza focuses upon the apparent victim and the speaker's reaction and opinion of him. Lines such as 'What did it matter?' and 'What was his name?' create a flippant nonchalance to the speaker in a chilling manner as, far from feeling remorse for these appalling and condemnable actions, she clearly feels very little, appearing indifferent. ...read more.

Middle

Fire and sun imagery add further to confirm and depict the anger of the speaker. A rhyme scheme was evident with regards to the words 'ditches' and 'britches' at the end of lines; internal rhyming was also evident with 'porches' and 'torches' as well as 'beagles' and 'eagles'. As in 'Salome', the technique of enjambment is present. The final line itself is the most menacing and that which gives the poem its threatening atmosphere; 'Me...carry a gun.' It makes the reader think that the speaker could be anyone or anywhere, once again paralleling to 'Salome' with regards to the line, 'Lamb to the slaughter', which implied that the victims of the speaker had little chance of escaping her clutches, making the reader feel uncomfortably helpless. Notable differences between the way in which the two poets, Simon Armitage and Carol Ann Duffy, build up tension is the way Carol Ann Duffy builds up unease first, leaving ambiguous hints making the reader suspicious before laying out the true nature of the speaker clearly at the end. Simon Armitage showed the angry, unbalanced mind of his speaker in the first words of the poem, leaving the reader in no doubt as to the stability of the speaker. Robert Browning's 'The Last Duchess' is a one sided conversation, in the first person as with the other poems, between the unnamed Duke of Ferrara and the servant of his potential father-in-law. ...read more.

Conclusion

The time set, 'Ancien Regime' indicates that the poem is set in a past age. Clues such as 'an earring', 'a filigree basket' indicates that the speaker is a woman, and speaks of "her" - this could be a rival, though it is unclear. The speaker initiates with the plot of one murder but her daring grows as she watches poisons being created and fantasises of killing more victims. The fact that the speaker is so obviously deranged in a way that does not match the previous speakers makes the poem less threatening when compared to, for example, 'Salome'. The speaker in 'The Laboratory' is much more visibly unbalanced, entering into a 'black humour' category along with 'Salome' because of its rhyming scheme. The poem's rhyming scheme further backs this idea; the rhythm of the poem, 'they know... what they do' creates a lighter effect. This indicates that Browning intended to the poem to be more comic then horrific as it so outrageous, especially in comparison to the quite, subdued ruthlessness of the speaker in 'My Last Duchess' and 'Salome'. The poem creates a vaguely menacing atmosphere in its topic, premeditated murder, but the way in it is written makes it very different from the other three, which are much darker and far more threatening in the atmosphere they create for the reader. ...read more.

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