The Secret in Carol Ann Duffy’s Poems Reflection

We have finished the study of the selected poems in Green Rice, and are now moving on to 15 of the 30 poems in Carol Ann Duffy’s collection The World’s Wife. Before the actual study of specific poems starts, we, as usual, were given tasks to explore the background of both the collection and the poet. An article called “The Public and Private” explores areas regarding the incentives that lead to Duffy’s creation of all her poems in general as well as the specific analysis of a few poems in the collection that really highlights the main themes. Based on the reading, here are a few points that I found interesting and might help with future studies of the poem:

 

– The contrast in writing styles (tones) and language uses in different poems within the collection (intertextuality)

– Characterization of men as useless, incompetent, arrogant, vain, and unnecessary

– The reveal of a character’s hidden secrets

 

The article suggests that Duffy often adds ambiguity in the persona in poems before The World’s Wife. Using this point as a hint, the choice of certain tones in the collections are even more deliberate as the identity of personas are explicitly given by the poem titles. This method of making the identity translucent invites the reader to have deeper thoughts into the real intention behind Duffy’s creation and helps readers to have a better understanding when reading the poem. As seen in the first two poems in the collection, the poem’s form shifts from a narration of a story to the description of Thetis’ thoughts. The real intention of these choices could be explored in a more detailed way as the identity is given. Being sensitive to the poem’s form, to me, is important in terms of understanding the poet’s real intention of writing the collection.

 

The second point is merely the central theme that runs through the poem. As present in all the poems, the characterization of men is often linked with words that has a derogatory sense. This reflects the personal experiences of Duffy, where she met a poet at the age of 16 and fell in love with him…… It is interesting observing how these experiences are reflected in the poems. (I am a bit offended by the descriptions)

 

Thirdly, the article suggests that the content of the poem relates to one of the beliefs that Duffy holds toward childhood. She believes that everybody in their childhood, or even adulthood, have some hidden experiences, secrets, in their mind. Based on this belief, Duffy is bounded to revealing these hidden secrets in the characters that appears in her poems; for example, as stated in the article about the poem Mrs. Darwin, the persona implies that she is the one who came up with the idea of the theory of evolution. These hidden thoughts are fascinating to discover as it lights up the “light bulb” the way when characters in anime come up with good ideas.

 

So above are the three most meaningful, significant points that I summarized from reading the article.

2 thoughts on “The Secret in Carol Ann Duffy’s Poems Reflection

  1. Ryan, you say you are offended by Duffy’s descriptions of love. I wonder why this is. Could you tell me more? Is it the violence or graphic nature of the imagery? Or is the presentation of men? Or perhaps it’s that the young girl is so in control of the process? Please explain.

    1. I am offended by the portrayal and the strong negative colored adjective that Duffy associates with men.
      I understand Duffy’s overall comment and opinion about men as a whole, but in my opinion, her description is too extreme and biased. This is further expressed from the characterization of men in “Mrs. Midas” and “from Mrs. Tiresias”, where their husbands are characterized as greedy, useless, and selfish. I believe, to some extent, these are the fundamental traits which make human what they are, and these traits are inseparable from any individual. Specifically characterizing men as such would be unsuitable as all human beings holds these traits. However, I want to make it clear that I do admire Duffy’s exquisite literary techniques of addressing that.

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