Mrs Beast by Carol Anne Duffy

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Mrs Beast is central to The Worlds Wife. Explain how far this is true with reference to 2 other poems.


Mrs Beast is a central poem to the anthology, if not the most central poem. It contains a sum up of Duffy’s message of “The Worlds Wife” and is the only poem in the anthology that is able to convey that message in one.

The narrator in the poem is much like Carol Anne Duff” as she sets to straighten out all “these myths going round, these legends, fairytales.” However this is referring too much of what she has been writing about in The Worlds Wife where there is always a woman behind the man.

In Mrs Beast, the narrator is interpreted as a strong woman, who has complete control over the “Beast” of the poem. He may not be the most charming, handsomest and most popular but “they’re bastards when they’re princes” and the narrator chose a beast. The poem shows a lot of techniques, which show the power that the woman has “ my own black horse at the gates ready to carry me off at one wrong word” “The lady says do this”. This is Carol Anne Duffy’s message in a lot of her anthology as she uses a lot of other poems to display power. One of these is Queen Kong, in which the role of power is turned around when a huge ape has total control of the situation and relationship “didn’t he know I could swat his plane from these skies like a knat.” This is symbolic of her power over him and her strength when it is typically the man who has the strength. Therefore Carol Anne Duffy does use a lot of different poems to show that women are powerful. This is why Mrs Beast is central to “The Worlds Wife” because it contains a lot of powerful messages that Carol Anne Duffy conveys through other poems. In Mrs Beast, we get the feeling of importance from the narrator and also that she is perhaps the most powerful woman in the entire anthology. This maybe because it is the second to last poem in The Worlds Wife, and may want to leave the reader with the feeling of astonishment or dismay at the fact that the poem is so powerful. Throughout Mrs Beast we also see our narrator play a game of cards with some friends. These happen to be beautiful and rich “us beautiful and rich” and also happen to have “beasts” as husbands, therefore putting them at a powerful position as with Mrs Beast because the husbands will be glad to have their wives around. This again emphasises the point of power. However the part of the poem that really makes the whole poem a central part of the anthology is the fact that during the poker game, ghosts stand behind their chairs. These ghosts happen to be “Marilyn Monroe” “Henry VIII’s” wives and “Diana, Princess of Wales.” These are women in history who have lost it all to men, who gave men all their love and lost all they had, including their hearts. This is a very specific point in the poem because these women represent  “Myra Hindley”  “Mrs Quasimodo” and “Mrs Midas” and all the other voices in the anthology as they are the ghosts who lost it all to men. Some women do get the last laugh on the men, but this is rare and is Duffy’s point on humour.

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A woman who did lose everything including her freedom to a man is Myra Hindley who is famous for the murders of children along with her partner Ian Brady. The poem is giving Myra Hindley a voice and opinions. The narrator in the poem claims, “It was him” when talking about the murders in the third chapter of the poem. This is crucial and relates back to “Mrs Beast” because Myra Hindley claims to be manipulated by her partner. While in Mrs Beast we see that in fact that could never happen to that narrator because she is in ...

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