How Does Carol Ann Duffy Present The Theme Of Being Misplaced In The Dolphins(TM) and Comprehensive(TM)?
How Does Carol Ann Duffy Present The Theme Of Being Misplaced In ‘The Dolphins’ and ‘Comprehensive’? Carol Ann Duffy is a poet who characterizes her written poetry through carefully channelled dramatic monologues. Through her work, many themes and issues are explored, including that of loss, love, adolescence, change and being misplaced. Her propositions in this poetry are not to create a mystique or confusion, but to communicate through the usage of various personas and portray the thoughts and feelings typical to that character. In this essay, I will look at two specific poems: The Dolphins and Comprehensive. They both include elements of misplacement, which is arguably the key theme to both. I will analyze this theme in particular, exploring how Duffy creates the semblance of the character and the techniques that are employed in her poems. In The Dolphins, we are introduced to an enclosed persona of which freedom has been curtailed. The poem is spoken from the point of view of a dolphin, which has been incarcerated in an aquatic centre accompanied by others of its species. The second line claims “We are in our element but we are not free”, meaning the conditions in which they reside (obviously being water) 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
This is a preview of the whole essay
people, and “the man”, who the dolphin’s monologue seems to attract an aspect of resentment toward. However, it may have taken the dolphins some time to initially identify their limited surroundings – an idea revealed in the second verse: “After travelling such space for days we began to translate” is a sad twist of dramatic irony; people could see the marine mammals had been enclosed, yet it took themselves a while to realize that this was not an ocean, and that the space no longer stretched beyond horizons. To continue the irony, the last sentence of the first verse states that “There is a constant flowing guilt”, as the people working alongside the dolphins of the aquarium may feel conscious at withdrawing the freedom of such a creature, and “flowing” is used as a metaphor linking to the water in which they swim. This technique draws a defeated sympathy from the reader, as there is little they can do to set these dolphins free. The Dolphins ends with a devastating statement on behalf of the imprisoned – “There is a man and our mind knows we will die here”. These dolphins will never have the God given privilege to roam the outside world again, and are resigned to becoming the focal point of public enjoyment. The poem, to a marginal degree, could also raise the argument of animal rights, depending on the interpretation of the person. The thought of staying in one place for such a long time for anyone would be highly constraining at the very least, and so to take a living being out of water for cheap entertainment provokes the question of whether such activity should even be legal. The poem explores the theme of misplacement through resigned emotion. The flexibility of freedom is valuable to the quality of life, and the dolphin’s persona seems to understand this very clearly. The beginning of the third verse mourns “And now we are no longer blessed, for the world will not deepen to dream in”, and conveys its regret that they will no longer do as they please, that they are no longer “blessed”. The pool in which they stay will not expand its depths for the dolphins to cover new ground, and the line also metaphorically suggests that their dreams of independence are over in these shallow depths. The poem also displays the loss of hope through means of repetition. “There is” is a common phrase which appears in the poem on several occasions (“There is” a ‘constant flowing guilt’, ‘coloured ball’, ‘no hope’, amongst others) and this augments the effectiveness of the dolphin’s monologue, as a picture of their lives become clearer; as does the sorrowful tone. An alternative tone is found within Comprehensive; however the theme of misplacement is also evident. These verses depict passages of the lives of young boys from distinctive ethnical backgrounds; one being British and raised in the United Kingdom, the other being Muslim who has moved to Britain from Africa with his family. The poem compares and contrasts their lives and differences as each verse rotates their personas. This is an effective technique – through this style, we can identify how their personalities are divaricated from one another. For example, we can analyze the opening line: “Tutumantu is like hopscotch, Kwani-kwani is like hide-and-seek” – the impression is gained that the boy is still adjusting to his new surroundings, behaving comparatively as he seeks to acclimatize to life in Britain. The second verse introduces Wayne, who takes interest in “Paki-bashing”, controversially violent entertainment (‘I Spit on Your Grave’) and football (‘Arsenal’ football club). Both are worlds away from similarity and Wayne displays racist tendencies here that were a problem during the mid-1980’s, suggesting that people of different cultures may find themselves feeling misplaced in such an environment. Muslims in this society had many problems adapting to the disjointed fundamentals at the time. In the sixth verse, reference is made to the fact that “Some of them wear turbans in class” and that it was hard not to make fun of them. As the majority of people here are white, those from divergent cultures are often alone and seemingly out of place. This is supported in the same verse as the character claims “but they’re different from us”, and suggests to the reader that not only are the Muslim community finding it difficult to fit in; the British seem at a loss to accept them as well. The discriminative attitude is also shown when the persona affirms that “There was murder” when his sister went out with “one” of them. Here we see a family’s intolerable perspective on Muslims, as well as ignorance, as referring to a person from another culture as “one” shows that many are blind towards finding a way of living alongside each other. This type of misplacement in Comprehensive is mostly unrelated to the nature found in The Dolphins. The latter of these displays forced captivity; dolphins cannot fight being trapped and trained in an aquarium to perform, while Comprehensive represents an actual fight against the feelings of misplacement in the community. In this poem, it is apparent that those from a Muslim background are making a valiant effort to speak in proper formal English, while those who are accustomed to living in the United Kingdom frequently use slang terminology (“I like Madness. The lead singer’s dead good”). The Muslims are shown as trying to live and think positively (“I have hope and am ambitious”) and this is a credible demeanour to have in any situation and will have helped in their upward struggle to grow comfortable with their new surroundings. Also, these people see hope in succeeding, while the persona in the dolphins has a contrasting sentiment, portrayed many times, particularly in the line “There is a plastic toy. There is no hope”. One similarity between the two texts is that the personas who lead the poem felt comfortable within their previous climates. Prior to transmigrating to Britain, the character from Comprehensive resided in Africa, and seemed far happier there. This is shown as the character expresses that “We talk about the things we used to do in Africa and then we are happy”. The quote shows that the character finds comfort in thinking of retrospective times in life to make it easier to get by. Looking back at The Dolphins and their experiences being circus trained, it can be confidently said that they favoured the freedom of the ocean to the place where they would spend the rest of their lives. A memory of a better time was also revisited in this poem, albeit in a more longing and downbeat tone (“We see our silver skin flash by like memory of somewhere else”) which confirms that they missed the lives they once led. In conclusion, Carol Ann Duffy has created two notably distinct personas and conveyed a realistic interpretation of how that character would feel, being placed in that corresponding situation. The theme of misplacement was a common point within the poems, as the characters often voiced their concerns at the problems and positions they had been put in. This was far more prominent in The Dolphins, which would make the majority of the poems readers sympathetic towards the dolphins being enclosed. Sympathy is not really a case in Comprehensive, as there is a stronger element of hope for the character who is attempting to fit in. Based on this opinion, I believe The Dolphins serves as a more effective representation of misplacement.
Here's what a teacher thought of this essay
*** 3 STARS This is a well structured essay which uses PEA throughout and makes some important and perceptive comments. There are frequent lapses in expression and in word choice which need to be edited.