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AS and A Level: Carol Ann Duffy
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Depictions of Love
- 1 Duffy’s collection Rapture traces the progression of a love affair from beginning to end. It is worth considering the meanings and effects invested in our knowledge that the affair (also autobiographical) has ended.
- 2 Duffy does not assign a direct gender to her lover. How might this inform your response to the poetry?
- 3 Look for binary oppositions throughout the collection: the modern versus the traditional, feminine language versus masculine language, sacred versus profane.
- 4 Consider the significance of using 2nd person or the ‘vocative’, addressing a lover in their absence.
- 5 Consider the importance of using past tense and present tense: what does each provide? How is the reader positioned when reading each poem?
Writing about Duffy's poetry
- 1 Although the Rapture collection is autobiographical, do not confuse Duffy with the ‘persona’, ‘poetic voice’ or ‘narrator’ of the poem. The narrator is a much a construct as any other character.
- 2 Avoid proceeding through poems chronologically, which leads to repetition and suggests that you haven’t constructed an argument.
- 3 Similarly, describing the ‘events’ of the poem avoids addressing the question.
- 4 Use terminology to describe particular techniques such as enjambement, caesura, internal rhyme, etc. This shows your knowledge of poetic devices.
- 5 Be sure, once you have identified a technique, to develop the significance of its use in terms of the meanings generated and the effects produced.
Essay work on Duffy's poetry
- 1 When planning, brainstorm your response according to the wording of the question and try to address it directly throughout.
- 2 Aim for a balanced response which demonstrates that poetry can be read in different ways: there is never one, reductive ‘translation’ but usually a variety of meanings and interpretations.
- 3 Responses should be paragraphed by using topic sentences at the beginning of each. These function to address an aspect of the title and delineate what the paragraph will cover e.g. Duffy addresses the theme of love in a variety of ways throughout the collection.
- 4 Embed quotations frequently, to show your knowledge of the text.
- 5 Similarly, when considering a single poem, you can briefly cross refer to other poems in the collection in order to reinforce the connections between them and generate a stronger sense of its position.
- Marked by Teachers essays 5
- Peer Reviewed essays 2
Duffy's message in the 'Worlds Wife,' seems to be that ultimately the 'World's Wife,' wants a divorce. How far do I agree with this assessment of the anthology?4 star(s)
Throughout the anthology divorce, or women wanting to be separated from men, and the inadequacy of men in the eyes of their women, are the foremost themes. 'Mrs Aesop' is a poem where Duffy is mirroring the tedious and repetitive aspects of 'Mr Aesop' in the structure of her writing. For example we get an idea that 'Mr Aesop,' is a very slow laborious speaker, by the way Duffy structures her sentences. '... worthless in a bush. tedious. Going out was the worst.
- Word count: 1422
This atmosphere of loss is aided through the use of negative emotive diction such as 'bawling' and 'resigned'. By showing that the protagonist's brothers are crying, Duffy illustrates how hard this is for them as crying is usually only brought on by major or sad events and loss, 'resigned' is used to show how she has accepted her fate, but it doesn't mean she likes it. This association of emotions with the diction allows for empathy to occur towards the protagonist and her unsure feelings about her emigration. The theme of cultural identity is used in the poem in order to instil a sense of not belonging.
- Word count: 1095
'In Little Red Cap,' Duffy has successfully written about childhood and the loss of innocence. Discuss with detailed references to the poem;3 star(s)
Which signifies Little Red Cap is at the beginning of her adult life and that she is no longer an innocent child, but she is now a independent young women. However in the second stanza this image is slightly diminished as it states that she is only 'Sweet Sixteen.' this quote warns the reader that she is not as grown up as we were first set out to believe, in fact this makes her seem rather inexperience and naive. Another quote that proves she still is juvenile is the sentence "I lost both shoes, but got there, wolf's lair, better
- Word count: 918
How Does Carol Ann Duffy Present The Theme Of Being Misplaced In The Dolphins(TM) and Comprehensive(TM)?3 star(s)
are familiar, however, their habitat (the aquarium) does not allow the unrestraint found in an ocean, where they rightfully belong. "There is a man and there are hoops" confirms to the reader that the dolphins are being circus trained in order to satisfy audiences, further supported in the third verse with the line "There is a coloured ball we have to balance till the man has disappeared". In reality, this tells us that dolphins have emotions too, that they would rather be placed back in the sea than spend the rest of their lives performing in front of people, and "the man", who the dolphin's monologue seems to attract an aspect of resentment toward.
- Word count: 1564
How do poets create the illusion of the speaking voice? Write about Carol Ann Duffy's 'Head of English' and one other poem from section one. In your answer show how language is used in both poems to convey attitudes and values.3 star(s)
This insinuates that she is telling the poet that she is expecting her recital to be very impressive and that she has high standards, which must be met. The teacher tries to prove that she has power to the poet as she continues to control every little thing her pupils do. 'Please show your appreciation by clapping'. This line shows us that she is in control of her class; her pupils must do what she says, when she says it.
- Word count: 1706
a wish he only makes but not something he would act upon. 'He fuck(s her) again' further shows this is not the first time Delilah has been 'fucked' suggesting a repetitive nature of this act. Furthermore, Delilah allows herself to be 'fucked' - through Delilah's submission, Duffy could be making a statement that women can not break free from this subordinate role in sex. Samson's language is also sexually suggestive, possibly implying that a man can not have his libido driven out of him regardless of the situation.
- Word count: 1386
It is sometimes claimed, usually by male critics, that contemporary women poets are only interested in exploring issues related to gender. Does your own detailed reading of the work of Carol Ann Duffy incline you to support or reject that view? Refer clos
Also the very name of the book presents a possible theme Duffy is trying to make clear. The World's Wife suggests an inequality in sex, the world being a man and the wife its possession. This theme has a solid backbone, throughout most of her poems the wife is simply the onlooker to a man who has resonated through history without the accompaniment of his wife, in terms fame. But who in fact got to where he was, because of her. Though it is true gender is the strongest theme in the collection, it isn't the only one.
- Word count: 815
Although she describes the action as a burden, she does enjoy doing it, because it's for her partner. This line also is metaphorically deciphered, as it incorporates the importance and understanding in a relationship, despite him having imperfections, she still, loves him. The next line, is very descriptive, and is beautifully composed. 'So the fragrant liquid steams in your china cup.' Relating back to the second sentence, it seems as though she is referring back to their relationship, as she describes the action of lifting the teapot, she then sows the fruits of her labour and contently watches him drink the tea, she so lovingly prepared.
- Word count: 820
"Gone home. Gutted the place" from 'Mrs Lazarus' is another example of caesura separating actions, this time to express a sense of finality and determination. The descriptive feel of 'Anne Hathaway' is enhanced by Duffy's use of declarative sentences. Alliteration in "living laughing love" expresses happiness, just as "feared, famous, friends of the stars" is alliterative to show how the Kray Sisters were happy because of their fame. This contented fluidity is further enhanced by assonance - "other bed, the best, our guests"; sibilance - "by scent, by taste"; and fricatives - "softer rhyme".
- Word count: 1445
In Medusa it can be said that Duffys main concerns are negative ones: jealousy, self loathing and loneliness. How far do you agree?
However throughout "Medusa" there's an underlying tone which is, in fact, positive. Duffy uses "Medusa's" appearance as an embodiment of jealousy through the subversion of the original Greek myth. It is the jealousy of Athena that leads to the transformation "Medusa" undertakes, thus giving a metaphorical representation. Duffy opens the poem by introducing the theme female paranoia, one which causes Duffy to pass comment on how women critique themselves under modern society's definition of perfection. Duffy emphasises this by the list of "suspicion, doubt and fear" which "grew in her mind", creating an instant meter which is broken shortly by the use of enjambment.
- Word count: 1122
The words are similar to that of jazz and scat singers from the forties who would use random vocals and gibberish to create melodies and rhythms without the use of instruments. The first sentence "Boogie woogie chou chou cha cha chatta noogie" represents the dancing associated with the music and the third sentence "da doo ron da doo run doo wop a sha na" are lyrics from the song "Da Doo Run Run" by The Crystals. Each sentence in the poem either represents a certain song or a particular music style within the blues genre.
- Word count: 936
Little Red Cap revises Little Red Riding Hood in order to explore a rite of passage through puberty, the seductions of heterosexuality and initiation into the male-dominated world of writing. In light of this
Through use of enjambement in the third stanza, "a dark tangled thorny place/ lit by the eyes of owls" the pace of the poem is quickened, almost mimicking the quickening heart beat of Red Cap as she begins the physical journey to the loss of her childhood. The decision by Duffy for Red Cap to have "clapped eyes" on the wolf, see's her viewing him as a form of prey, however the chosen description also carries a sense of foreboding.
- Word count: 1273
It Has Been Said That Carol Anne Duffy Often Portrays A Negative View Of Love. How Far Do You Agree? Refer To The Collection Rapture And Examine At Least One Poem In Detail:
She starts off positively, 'I like pouring your tea' . Already she is asserting her affection for her lover. The syntax of this sentence is extremely effective, at the beginning of the poem, she has shown us that doing anything for her partner, is more of hobby rather than a hindrance. Even in the first line, she is showing that, rather like a wife, she enjoys doing duties and takes pleasure in conducting them as opposed to finding them an irritation. 'Lifting the heavy pot, and tipping it up'  continues the powerful, tactile imagery; the onerous actions have undertones, of touching sensations.
- Word count: 1297
'spend' is metaphorically used in the sense of spending time, for the time they do spend together may not be very often. 'We find an hour together' suggests that to 'find' something, has to endure and search for it. This is where Duffy sends out mixed messages, as she plays an underlying sinister tone, with a different meaning to something that looks innocent. 'We find an hour together' could propose that the lovers are so busy; they rarely have time for one other.
- Word count: 773
One can assume therefore that, Duffy's main purpose through the use of the dramatic monologue is to give the other side to these famous stories, implying that there is more to them then what has been recorded in history and ultimately accepted by society, whilst at the same time giving each of them a modern setting through her choice of diction to make them accessible to the reader. This theme of revisionism and the power of the female voice, is recurrent throughout the entirety of the World's Wife collection.
- Word count: 1998
A critic has written that Duffys poetry is primarily concerned with human failings. To what extent do you feel this is true of The Worlds Wife? Refer to two or three poems in detail or range more widely through the who
Dr Faustus' lack of self control, ignorance and plain arrogance could be assumed to be a failing, although he lived a happy life his inhibitions to be successful he needed the aid of the devil therefore he was doomed from the beginning. Here we can see the obvious links between the two poems and how the two characters egotistical ways led to their failure. One interesting failure Duffy uses is seen in the poem 'The Devils Wife', Duffy interestingly splits this poem into six sections which all relate back to different themes, we see the value of a relationships, motherhood and repentance.
- Word count: 1073
The poem starts 'six hours like this for a few francs'. This shows the reader how dismissive the character is towards whatever she is doing. The fact that she is so dismissive suggests that she is being treated unjustly. The harsh alliteration 'few francs' really emphasises how the character feels she is too good to be doing that particular job or that she is simply not being paid enough for her services. Either way, it reveals how Duffy highlights the exploitation of women by being mistreated and underpaid.
- Word count: 1580
The first mention of her beloved is in a dominant way; almost the approach we are led to believe that men take over women, one of ownership and possession, 'My little man'. By using such a small, snappy sentence, Duffy emphasises the upper-hand she has over her man, and with the reference to his size, she also emphasises the fact that she is so much larger than him; he could not really get away from her if he desired to.
- Word count: 1336
This sets the calm relaxing atmosphere of the poem before the crisis. The poem is calm because Mrs. Midas uses smoothly and well-skilled sentences. The intonation changes suddenly, the sentences become short and factual lexis is used. For example in the fifth stanza Mr. Midas said "I moved the phone". Mrs. Midas does this to make the situation seem more urgent chaotic and panicky. Short sentences are used in this poem to speed p the narration as the chaos happens in the poem. After the crisis is over, she reverts to her earlier relaxing mood.
- Word count: 985
Adverbs are use in the poem: "clearly/ distantly". They are used to create internal rhymes in the poem, also to make the poem sound more feminine hence that the poem is about two women making love. Moreover, adjectives are included in the poem: "ferocious". Duffy implies that women as well as men can be aggressive at sex. She is saying that lust between two women is not boring but fun and exciting. It can build up your adrenaline. Duffy uses a past progressive verb: "remembered hearing".
- Word count: 804
Innocence is one of the ways in which Duffy explores childhood in her poems. "Litany" also explores the theme of childhood and like many of Duffy's other poeoms uses the theme of childhood, to signify the loss of innocence. Duffy uses the character in the poem to explore the theme of childhood. Litany is about the construction of a false world, with children being protected from anything unsavoury such as 'cancer' and 'leukaemia.' The whole poem is in a formal tone to mirror the setting of the 'false world' portrayed.
- Word count: 1370
Duffy then lists all the things which can describe her, this list builds up the speed showing the on going excitement that poetry allows her to have (which later becomes her reason "why" for going through the ordeal). In this list she mentions that she's "never been", the phrase is supposed to end with 'kissed' however the absence of the word implies that she is willing to go further than a kiss to learn, also "waif" is added to her list which ominously could refer to being removed from her home through the hardship that she will experience with the wolf.
- Word count: 1181
The poem is divided by four seven line stanza's. There is no rhyming pattern; this allows Carol Ann Duffy to elaborate and focus on the language. The lack of rhyme could also reflect the prostitutes down to earth, blunt character, ignoring the fancy rhymes and riddles and getting straight to the point. There is enjamberment in the poem, perhaps reflecting the prostitutes careless personality. There are also several caesura's throughout the poem, perhaps showing these are the prostitutes thoughts - the way what she is thinking back and forth so abruptly.
- Word count: 1006
Carol Ann Duffys Valentine is an original and intriguing poem. Initially, the poem appears to be appertained with giving an unusual gift for St. Valentines Day.
It could also be suggested that the popularity of roses, chocolates, etc. given as gifts makes them commonplace and thus uninspired, perhaps even meaningless, choices of gifts. By rejecting this soppy view of love, Duffy's poem is both more relevant and interesting to the reader, and convinces the reader that loves in the poem is original and genuine (as is her choice of gift). Moreover, the poem's imagery is original and is integral to understanding the theme of love in the poem. Duffy uses an onion as a metaphor for love: 'I give you an onion...a moon wrapped in brown paper.'
- Word count: 948
'Elvis is alive and she's female' is the first line of 'Elvis's Twin Sister'. The twin sister is a nun and leads a contented life, in the second stanza the nun receives an appreciation stare from the 'Reverend Mother', she 'digs the way I move my hips / Just like my brother. Homosexuality is not widely explored in the collection although it is treated positively when mentioned. The 'Black Queen' in 'Queen Herod' is a self-assured, imposing figure, who stares at 'Queen Herod' with 'insolent lust'. 'The Kray Sisters' is a depiction of two brash, noisy and feminist women.
- Word count: 1188