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AS and A Level: Carol Ann Duffy

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Depictions of Love

  1. 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. 2 Duffy does not assign a direct gender to her lover. How might this inform your response to the poetry?
  3. 3 Look for binary oppositions throughout the collection: the modern versus the traditional, feminine language versus masculine language, sacred versus profane.
  4. 4 Consider the significance of using 2nd person or the ‘vocative’, addressing a lover in their absence.
  5. 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. 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. 2 Avoid proceeding through poems chronologically, which leads to repetition and suggests that you haven’t constructed an argument.
  3. 3 Similarly, describing the ‘events’ of the poem avoids addressing the question.
  4. 4 Use terminology to describe particular techniques such as enjambement, caesura, internal rhyme, etc. This shows your knowledge of poetic devices.
  5. 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. 1 When planning, brainstorm your response according to the wording of the question and try to address it directly throughout.
  2. 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. 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. 4 Embed quotations frequently, to show your knowledge of the text.
  5. 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
  1. Marked by a teacher

    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
  2. Peer reviewed

    'Carol Ann Duffy's poetry is mainly concerned with the politics of sex'

    4 star(s)

    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

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • From your reading of 'The Fenland Chronicle' discuss the farmers view of what life is like for girls in service. Consider the way the story is told, what is revealed about the narrator and the daily routines of a maid.

    "In conclusion, I believe that this is a useful piece of historical evidence in looking at the life of a girl in service. It also examines class consciousness by attacking the farmers and their lifestyle and values. It also explains the poor conditions that girls were subjected to, as well as shedding some light on the identity of the author them self."

  • Carol Ann Duffy explores the theme of childhood. Discuss in reference to at least two poems.

    "In conclusion Carol Ann Duffy explores the theme of childhood through the memories of the characters and sometimes through the child presented in the poem. The main idea of the poems is that childhood represents innocence and it is the experiences of life the takes away the innocence that children hold. The loss of innocece seems to be an inevitable part of growing up and the problem would occur if we kept our innocence throughout our adulthood. Also through her poems she shows that the experiences that we receive during our cildhood affect us in our later life. Alex fish"

  • Compare and contrast the poems 'Brendon Gallacher' and 'Yellow' in terms of language, ideas and imagery.

    "Jackie Kay's experiences as a child were not particularly pleasant when the relatives visited. In the poem 'Yellow', Aunt Peggy visits. She seems quite a strict character. Her speech is written in italics, alike the father's speech. This gives a better idea of how loud Aunt Peggy may be talking to Jackie Kay. Aunt Peggy 'shoves' Jackie Kay's head into the yellow egg yolk. This shows that Aunt Peggy may be quite nasty and violent, giving the reason why Jackie Kay might dislike her. Jackie Kay finds comfort by personifying the food. The 'passionate beetroot balls', rolling across the plate conveys an image of close, intimate relationship. The colour of the beetroot balls, red, is also related to love and affection. Jackie Kay did not appear to get any of this in the poem. Throughout both poems, Jackie Kay cleverly revealed her childhood and her family relationship with the other members of her adoptive family through the language of each poem. Everything seems to be linked to family relationship in some way, in particular the relationship between a mother and daughter. Both poems are full of imagination from Jackie Kay as child with the poems containing both negative and positive times in her life. Ryan McDonnell 10CTJ 10a1"

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