"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

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                Arkesh Patel 4C1

In Mrs. Tilscher’s Class

“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.  This theme leads on to the more abstract idea of the child already maturing into a great poet.  Her mind's eye is unbounded as she transforms her classroom into a place of riches and resides in her own world of imagination.  Written improbably through the 2nd person viewpoint, the poem expresses these ideas personally to the reader, hence allowing us to empathise with the poet.

The poet is able to recall several aspects of her primary school days, and is consequently able to paint a picture of her memories from the viewpoint of a young child.  The writer not only conveys an inviting warm atmosphere of a 1960’s classroom, but also unveils a liberal outlook to her childhood.  A colourful classroom with numerous displays is made known to the reader: “The classroom glowed like a sweet shop.”  The classroom is made into a place of riches with this visual simile, used to radiate wonders of the child’s mind.  The word “glowed” in this line is a metaphor all on its own.  The metaphor allows the reader to visualise the sweetshop gleaming due to the light refracting through the glass jars and translucent sweets.  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.  The bell’s laugh is a transferred epithet from the child, as the children too were laughing, overwhelmed with joy as they returned to their classroom for another dose of Mrs. Tilscher. The poet’s joy is so intense and infectious, that it reaches out and transforms the whole scene.  Such is the magnitude of the poet’s emotion.  The laugh is also a visual image, as the reader can see a smile as the arc of the bell, and the clapper hitting the sides of it is almost comparable to a tongue.  However other images such as a “skittle of milk” are more informative and suggest the time setting of the poem.  The poet also remembers a music room next door to her classroom, though only by means of “a xylophone’s nonsense” heard.  This auditory image describes the noise of the xylophone next door and this is further expanded by the use of the single metaphoric word “nonsense” which implies the vague unclear noise heard and the fact that the primary school children are producing uncoordinated music.  The “enthralling books” were not to be forgotten to the poet, as they had made her a slave to them continually, due to their alluring influence.  All the images used to recall aspects of the poet’s primary school principally focus on an emotional and sensual level.

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The primary school classroom may have been a place memorable to the poet through various images, but the definitive piece of the poet’s 1960’s school life was Mrs. Tilscher.  Mrs. Tilscher’s voice is not even forgotten, as the poet reminisces her voice as she “chanted the scenery.”  Mrs. Tilscher’s chanting brings about connotations of music in her voice and melodic speech.  It also brings about a sense of religion, as she is made comparable to a pastor in a church chanting a sermon, enlightening and entrancing us all.  Mrs. Tilscher is portrayed as a compassionate teacher: “Mrs. Tilscher loved you” and ...

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