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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.

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  1. Discuss Duffy's themes and techniques in "The Captain of the 1964 Top of the Form Team" and one other poem of your choice. You should include discussion of the poet's use of language, structure and form in your response.

    He also associates cleverness with being clean (a common idea). His mother kept his mascot on the television for a year as mothers do as a sense of pride for their child, but after a while may have got fed up of it and felt it was time for him to let go. His mascot which was on the television was called "Gonk" which was an ugly troll doll of the 60s. He didn't get anything wrong and saw no mistakes or problems in his life there is no anticipation of any problem, the future seems guaranteed.

    • Word count: 1672
  2. Carol Ann Duffy

    In this poem Duffy is reminicising lovely thoughts about her mother. Fantasying about the life she used to lead and the fun that she had ten years preceding Duffy's birth. She goes on to write about her mother going out with friends to a dance hall, most likely in the late 1940's early 1950's. Enjoying her teenage years, the clothes she wore and the possibility of meeting a future husband. Which was all very exciting? From the moment Duffy was born she writes how her mother's life has changed forever, referring to her own "possessive yell," as though her mother now belongs to her.

    • Word count: 1227
  3. "Duffy expresses her social criticism by giving voices to characters who reveal their lives as being without purpose."

    By using characters' voices rather than her own, Duffy identifies with the speaker and confers authority onto a voice which might otherwise be silent. In the poems I have looked at she uses the characters that are portrayed as having lives without purpose but in reality their lives are without purpose the status society has given them. 'Psychopath', 'Recognition', and 'Stealing' are three of the poems I will be analysing to look at the way Carol Ann Duffy presents her point of view on society.

    • Word count: 2396
  4. Carol Ann Duffy conveys the ideas of time passing, growing up and maturing in the poems 'Hometown' and 'In Mrs Tilscher's Class'. 'In Mrs Tilscher's Class' explores the change

    This gives us an impression of innocence and simplicity visually. Both of the poems are written in chronological order to bring out the idea of time passing. There are three areas which can be compared and contrasted. First of all, although both poems depict the transition of phases in life, the tones of the personae are very different. Secondly, although the themes of the two poems are about time passing and growing up, the nature and style used are different.

    • Word count: 1169
  5. For my coursework I am going to compare the following poems, "In Mrs Tilscher's Class" by Carol-Ann Duffy and "Death of a naturalist" by Seamus Heaney. From reading them I get the impression of childhood memories

    He states: "Bubbles gargled delicately" By stating this he is giving the bubbles, a non-living characteristic, living characteristics. Both poets write about a teacher. In Heaney's poem we hear of a teacher "Miss Walls". In Duffy's poem we learn about the teacher "Mrs Tilscher". In the second stanza of Duffy's poem, we catch a glimpse of her inner-child. She uses short sentences such as: "Enthralling books" "Sugar paper" "Coloured Shapes" "This was better then home" This is effective as it childish language she is using and this then gives the impression that she is imagining herself in the classroom as the young child.

    • Word count: 616
  6. "In Mrs. Tilscher's Class" by Carol Ann Duffy deals with one central theme. The theme of growing up is the main idea within the poem and is repeatedly imprinted throughout the poet's childhood

    The poet can also bring to mind the teacher's blackboard, as she informs the reader of how "the chalky Pyramids rubbed into dust." In a literal sense the chalky lines on the board became chalk dust. The poet imagines this to be great pyramids and monuments being eroded inevitably by time. The bell signifying the end of playtime is remembered as: "The laugh of a bell, swung by a running child." This auditory image incorporates the personification of the bell, to compare its sound to an incessant laugh of a child.

    • Word count: 2352
  7. Carol Ann Duffy uses the theme of growing up in her poem 'In Mrs Tilscher's Class'. She starts off by setting the first stanza in a class in a primary school. She uses 'you could travel up the Blue Nile with your finger

    This stanza basically emphasising the happiness of the children at that age. 'This was better than home. Enthralling books. The classroom glowed like a sweetshop'. This is the opening two lines of the second stanza again showing the happiness and excitement of the children. 'Better than home' home is great so school must be even greater. 'The classroom glowed like a sweetshop' a child's favourite place is a sweetshop so Carol Ann Duffy here is using a simile showing that the atmosphere in her classroom is electrified by excited children as if they're in their favourite sweet shop. 'Brady and Hindley' these were two child murderers that the children wouldn't know about.

    • Word count: 944
  8. Comparing and discussing two poems written by two different people in two different times on the subject of time and change.

    A theme is something that you can find throughout a poem, play, book etc. It lets the reader/audience know what it is about and lets you understand the meaning of the piece more clearly. The themes of the two poems look at the concept of the changes between being youthful to growing old and discuss how time passes quickly in your life. They both convey nature as other elements of themes. Both poems express the poets views on life and it youth should be spent/enjoyed and their opinions on time and change. As well as similarities, both poems have strong comparisons.

    • Word count: 2003
  9. Compare and contrast Seamus Heaneys 'Death of a naturalist' with Carol Ann Duffy's 'In Mrs Tilschers class' and comment on which one you find more effective'

    Secondly it could be about growing up and forgetting about the exploring days. The poem is written in 1st person as the use of I is used in the poem. The structure of the lines are short and are in two sections which could be trying to explain the beautiful and disgusting side of nature there is no rhyme but there is an iambic pentameter rhythm. The tone of the poem is formal and serious in the second paragraph of the poem.

    • Word count: 633
  10. Choose a poem that reflects on the idea of change. Show how the poet explores the subject and explain to what extent your appreciation of the subject deepens.

    The style of the poem is sensory - this means the poem appeals to our senses, images and feelings. She does this especially well in this poem by creating a classroom that we can all identify with no matter what our age is. "You can travel up the blue Nile with your finger, tracing the route while Mrs Tilscher chanted the scenery". Later on in the poem we can feel the changes in the children who become irritable and impatient to leave.

    • Word count: 1019
  11. A poem which I have studied in class with a strong message is "Glasgow 5 March 1971" by Edwin Morgan. In this essay I am going to write about the message of the poem and how the author uses

    The poem also shows how the writer thinks people are ignoring their civil duties. The poem has an unemotional and clinical tone. The writer does not write about the characters emotions or add any emotions of his own. Instead his writing is factual and he concentrates on the characters facial expressions. Although the poet adds no personal feelings or emotions of his own, the poem still conveys a strong message and it is up to the reader to interpret this message.

    • Word count: 589

    This means the reader will want to carry on to see why would the person would want to kill. Secondly in both poems the narrators inflict harm to other people and/or creatures. The narrator in Hitcher hits the hitchhiker he picks up with his steering lock before throwing him out of the moving car, and feels no guilt - he comments 'I remember thinking, you can walk from there.' Similarly in Education For Leisure the main character comments 'I see that it is good' after flushing a goldfish down the toilet.

    • Word count: 677
  13. English Literature Comparing Poems

    When Armitage's wife was at nursery she conflicts with her parents after scuffing and blackening her coat and her mother reacts to this by making 'proper fist of it and points the finger. Temper, temper'. In 'Before You Were Mine' Carol Ann Duffy's relationship with her mother is off guilt. In the poem Carol Ann Duffy feels guilty that she has destroyed her mother's life by being born. The poet feels like this as she describes her mother as being a lively young adult having 'small bites on your neck' symbolising romance as those bites are love bites.

    • Word count: 1285
  14. Explore the memories of childhood presented in "In Mrs Tilscher's class" by Carol Ann Duffy and "Childhood" by John Clare

    The way Duffy mentions the sugar paper and the coloured shapes also give a sense of happiness because it makes the reader think of bright colours and activities which are associated with the pleasure of being a child. Likewise, in "Childhood" Clare also describes the contentment of childhood. "On the heaths, in the meadows beside the deep lake, and return'd with torn clothes all covered wi' burrs." This quotation shows how happy childhood was for Clare. The idea of nature presented in this quotation gives the impression of blissful children exploring the outside world.

    • Word count: 1199
  15. Compare and contrast the poems 'I remember, I remember' and 'to the virgins to make much of time'

    We assume this when he writes ' but now, I often wish the night had borne my breath away', this draws in the attention of the reader because we are curious in to finding out why things have changed. In line 18,We can feel his regret "where I used to swing". The majority of the things he tells us are in the past tense which causes the reader to believe the poet has convinced himself he will never again experience joyful events.

    • Word count: 1695
  16. "Captain Corelli's Mandolin"How do the language and classical allusions in this chapter present Dr. Iannis and his way of thinking? In your answer you should: Look closely at the use of language and narrative method

    From the phrases that he uses we find out that he likes to impress people, especially if they are his patients. For example in the first chapter instead of telling his patient that the cause of his earache is a pea, he describes it as "an exorbitant auditory impediment"-this helps the doctor to create some mystery around his work and knowledge and therefore makes him a more interesting person in the eyes of Stamatis and his wife. Dr. Iannis is "conscious of the necessity for maintaining a certain mystique, and fully aware that "a pea in the ear" was unlikely

    • Word count: 1065
  17. Compare and contrast the poems Mrs Faust and Eurydice

    This statement is now aimed at a specific group of people; women. By doing this, women, perhaps the main target demographic can relate to the poem more easily, and as such it will have a larger effect on them. The language and structure of Mrs Faust is very important to the meaning and effect of the poem. "We met as students, shacked up, split up, made up, hitched up...." The fast pace use of short sentences and the language here reflects the fast pace of the lives Mrs Faust and her husband shared.

    • Word count: 1173
  18. Discuss the development of the twins in The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. How does

    It is also important to understand that the 'fraternal twins' have an 'emotional connection to one another that is stronger than that of most siblings' (Manorama Mathai). Therefore when Estha is sent away Rahel feels as though she is losing a part of herself and they both find it incredibly hard to maintain their fun-loving personalities and sense of security that they once felt. Just after Estha has been sent away, following Velutha's death, Rahel explains the hate that she feels towards her mother.

    • Word count: 2986
  19. Duffy Published 'Mrs Midas' Several Years Before Its Inclusion in The Worlds Wife - To What Extent do you agree With the View That, In Terms of Subject Matter and Style, This poem is Key to the Whole Collection?

    Mrs Midas becomes scared that he will turn her to gold and sends him to a she always wanted. This poem is about male weakness, the fact that he didn't think about his actions and how they affected other people but however cruel he was to her in her mind she always sticks with him even though he was regardless in his decision. 'Mrs Midas' has a lot of subject matters within it and this may be why Duffy chose this poem to use as her base to build on and create more and more poems with the same kind of themes within them.

    • Word count: 1268
  20. An appreciation of "Wasp's Nest" and how Rosenberg uses words to communicate themes in his poem and how the poem is made memorable.

    The use of language here is very descriptive and this line being a metaphor aids the picture to be conceived on the mental canvas. Line 1 is memorable because it is quite unique the way one can find such descriptive to perfectly describe the scenario. "Striped in ebony and gold...''. The use of sophisticated and exclusive adjectives which are ('ebony' and 'gold') to illustrate the wasp's appearance shows how fascinated and beguiled Rosenberg is by the wasps. This line contributes to the memorability of the poem.

    • Word count: 1300
  21. A Comparison between 'Originally' and 'In Mrs Tilscher's Class'

    After learning about the Nile and its surroundings for an hour the children paused for a break to drink a 'skittle of milk'. A skittle of milk was a small glass bottle containing 1/3 pint of milk. Children used to refer to it as a 'skittle' because that is what it looked like. This shows the children's innocence and immaturity. Verse two describes how much the narrator loved being in Mrs Tilscher's class. It is described as being 'better than home'.

    • Word count: 1289
  22. Comparison of "Havisham" and "Salome" by Carol Ann Duffy

    Both ladies are exposing in the poem their feelings concerning men. Havisham, has assorted emotions concerning her ex-boyfriend, which she expresses in an oxymoron: "Beloved sweetheart bastard" To my mind, Salome doesn't embark herself in a platonic relationship - she rather enjoys the pleasure of physical closeness. She doesn't even remember the name of the man, who shared with her bed all night. "woke up with a head on the pillow beside me - whose?- what did it matter?" Both women can be also associated with death. Salome is presented with a head on the platter (she ordered to kill someone) whereas Havisham is "killed" - parts of her own break.

    • Word count: 723
  23. Before you were mine by Carol Ann Duffy

    However, she also had a disobedient side to her "...your Ma stands at the close with a hiding for the late one...". This shows that Duffy's mother used to come home late at night and used to get beaten by her mother, which portrays her rebellious nature. Duffy says that her mother didn't mind being beaten because she thought that being with the one she loves was 'worth it'. Duffy writes her poem in the past tense, which means that she wasn't there and is analyzing her mother's past only with the use of photos and other people's interpretations of how she was like.

    • Word count: 766
  24. Gcse English Poetry: Auden compared with Calrke

    Again he said, 'cut off the telephone' meaning he wanted to be alone without communicating to anyone. This is because she wanted to concentrate and grieve on the death of his loved one without people offering their condolences. Then the last line of the stanza, he said, 'bring out the coffin...' which suggests that he wanted to start making funeral plans. In the second stanza he wanted to let everyone know that his loved one has died and he mentioned in the first line, 'let aeroplane circle moaning overhead' which means that he wanted everyone to join him in feeling the pain and grief he feels and that a great man had passed.

    • Word count: 1337
  25. Carol Ann Duffy's The World's Wife

    'One bite, dead. How nice, breakfast in bed, he said.' Also, Duffy implies the manipulative nature of men. 'Lesson one that night, breath of the wolf in my car, was the love poem'. The poem indicates Duffy's view that men are weak and easy to tempt with prospects of pleasures of the flesh. 'I made quite sure he spotted me, sweet sixteen, never been, babe, waif, and bought me a drink'. This poem depicts in various derogatory terms, indicating an attack on men in general. Thetis, the next poem to be found in the collection, looks at men from a different perspective.

    • Word count: 755

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