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Carol Ann Duffy. Poetry recap. National 5: Scottish Set Text. In today’s lesson, we will... Study a Carol Anne Duffy poem ‘Havisham’. Talk about THEME. Identify and explain poetic techniques. ‘ Havisham ’.
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Carol Ann Duffy Poetry recap
National 5: Scottish Set Text In today’s lesson, we will... Study a Carol Anne Duffy poem ‘Havisham’. Talk about THEME. Identify and explain poetic techniques.
‘Havisham’ The speaker in the poem is the character of Miss Havisham, taken from the Dickens novel ‘Great Expectations’. In the novel, she is deserted at the altar on her wedding day by her husband-to-be. She is completely devastated and never recovers. She continues to wear her decaying wedding dress, adopts a daughter and brings her up teaching her to hate all men. The poem is a monologue.
Close Reading skills • Paragraph 3 – With reference to the text, comment on the impression created of Miss Havisham by Dickens. Use at least 2 quotations. • Paragraph 4 – What do you think has happened to Miss Havisham? Give at least 2 pieces of evidence to support your answer.
Verse 1 Oxymoron – emphasises her contradictory feelings Heavy emphasis here perhaps indicating her negative/aggressive feelings are now the dominant ones. Highlights the intensity of her vengeful desires. Hardened emotions? Dark for her evil thoughts of revenge. Green link with jealousy? Lack of transparency – might highlight the way she conceals her true feelings. Accentuated veins - due to age, stress, murderous anger etc. Irony – we usually pray for something good. Beloved sweetheart bastard. Not a day since then I haven’t wished him dead. Prayed for it so hard I’ve dark green pebbles for eyes, ropes on the back of my hands I could strangle with.
Verse 1 Beloved sweetheart bastard The poem begins as if addressed to the jilting bridegroom. It doesn't continue in this direct address - by the end of the poem the male figure will have become a male corpse - any male (generalised). The most striking thing about the first sentence is the combination of 'love' (beloved sweetheart) and hatred (bastard). Duffy is interested in the unstable combination of desire and hatred.
Verse 2 Negative connotations Emphasises primitive rawness of emotions Placed at start of stanza, one word sentence, bitter tone. Literally true? Or low self esteem? Doesn’t recognise herself – profoundly changed by rejection. Ambiguous – her or the dress? Perhaps she is frightened of looking in the mirror and seeing what she has become. Repetition emphasises intensity of anguish Avian terminology used to show how she feels demeaned or rejected by her lover who has flown the nest? Emphasises her isolation. Spinster. I stink and remember. Whole days in bed cawing Nooooo at the wall; the dress yellowing, trembling if I open the wardrobe; the slewed mirror, full-length, her, myself, who did this
Verse 3 Enjambment – to convey the idea of run away emotions and a lack of control? To evoke a troubled, restless mind? Deep red – connotations of puce? Dried blood? Disease? Sexual fantasy/dream reveals she cannot rid herself of her desire/affection which now torments her in the living nightmare of her waking existence. When she wakes the hatred and anger return to me? Puce curses that are sounds not words. Some nights better, the lost body over me, my fluent tongue in its mouth in its ear then down till I suddenly bite awake. Love’s
Verse 4 Alliteration . Might symbolise her broken heart, her life destroyed abruptly? + Shows how fragile love can be. One word sentence/onomatopoeia emphasises power/suddenness of above. Command. A morbid, macabre, erotic perverse request. Deeply disturbed, vengeful and malevolent. Long + slow – combination of enjoyment and torture Repetition highlights her emotional and psychological fragility. As well as her heart, her mind is now broken. hate behind a white veil; a red balloon bursting in my face. Bang. I stabbed at a wedding-cake. Give me a male corpse for a long slow honeymoon. Don’t think it’s only the heart that b-b-b-breaks.
Themes The poet is effectively exploring a number of themes in this poem.
Themes Damage that can be done by insensitive males/partners. Relationships – the thin line between love and hate. How one event can profoundly affect a life. How some people never recover from personal trauma. How social convention/prejudice can cause unhappiness.
Final Thoughts Perhaps Miss defines the character socially - whereas the poem concentrates on the nature of the character's individual feelings - the character's psychological/sexual nature, rather than her social being. The lack of ‘miss’ makes her seem less of a woman. However, Duffy wants to examine the sexuality of Miss Havisham and explore the sheer amount of pain the character has suffered. This is why Duffy chooses to write the poem in the first person.
Mrs Midas • This is a dramatic monologue told from the point of Midas’ wife. • It explores how she feels about the situation with her husband and her perspective on his wish – of all the things he could have wished for, he wished for this. What does this say about what kind of person he is?
The Myth of King Midas Duffy adopts the persona of Mrs Midas, wife of King Midas. The story of King Midas is a famous Greek myth. He is thought to have prayed for the ability to have a ‘golden touch’ and his wish was granted, meaning everything he touched turned to gold before his eyes. Things appear to have ended badly for Midas as he is thought to have died of starvation. This myth offers a lesson to us to be careful regarding what we wish for.
“Field of Cloth” The Field of Cloth was where King Henry VIII of England and King Francis I of France met to create a stronger bond between the countries after the Anglo-French treaty of 1514. Before the monarchs met, the area was run down and neglected. However, for the arrival of the kings, luxurious, decadent palaces were erected, bringing a sense of wealth to the once decaying area.
Tone and style • A conversational feel created with asides and interjections (interruptions) of added or qualifying information. Effect = intimacy between the speaker and listener. • Conversational tone – since we notice the story we almost forget how horrific and weird the events are. • References to touch are subtle at the start but in the second half of the poem, the notes of tenderness are more evident.
Allusion • In one piece of literature, there is a reference to another piece of literature, literary idea or well-known reference. • No specific explanation is required in the text and the reference is therefore loaded with connotations and ideas. • There are allusions in Mrs Midas:
“Mrs Midas” by Carol Ann Duffy Task One Pick out all of the references to the colour of gold in the poem. Why do you think Duffy has chosen to include so many?
‘September’ – a time we would associate with the golden colours of autumn. But also, things coming to an end. A typical domestic scene is presented in the first stanza. Personification of kitchen creates a warm, appealing, atmosphere. The language used to describe the scene reflects the mood of Mrs Midas as she ‘unwinds’ It was late September. I’d just poured a glass of wine, begun to unwind, while the vegetables cooked. The kitchen filled with the smell of itself, relaxed, its steamy breath gently blanching the windows. So I opened one, then with my fingers wiped the other’s glass like a brow. He was standing under the pear tree snapping a twig. Simile introduces importance of sense of touch to Mrs M – she is later no longer able to touch Midas. Atmosphere is shattered by the final line: ‘snapping a twig.’ – connotes something violent. Harsh consonant sounds in final phrase contrast with softer consonant and vowel sounds earlier in the stanza.
Personification: ‘dark of the ground seems to drink the light of the sky’ – sounds ominous. Reflects the idea of life being drained from something. Mr M’s disbelief over what is happening is emphasised by the length of time she takes to comprehend what she is seeing: ‘fingers wiped’ the window in stanza 1. Now the ‘visibility poor’. Now the garden was long and the visibility poor, the waythe dark of the ground seems to drink the light of the sky,but that twig in his hand was gold. And then he pluckeda pear from a branch - we grew Fondante d'Automne - and it sat in his palm like a light bulb. On.I thought to myself, Is he putting fairy lights in the tree? Contrast between lack of light in first two lines and brightness of ‘gold’ twig and pear ‘like a lightbulb.’ This simile seems unnatural – and perhaps symbolises Midas realising… Structure (‘On.’) adds dramatic effect. Question in last line again highlights Mrs M’s disbelief.
Mrs M is reminded of a history lesson – Fields of the Cloth… where Kings of England and France met to show off their great wealth. The name ‘Midas’ is not mentioned – perhaps reflecting the blame Mrs Midas puts on her husband for what he does. He came into the house. The doorknobs gleamed.He drew the blinds. You know the mind; I thought ofthe Field of the Cloth of Gold and of Miss Macready.He sat in that chair like a king on a burnished throne.The look on his face was strange, wild, vain. I said,What in the name of God is going on? He started to laugh. Midas is described as king like. His look ‘strange, wild, vain,’ reflects his greed and selfishness as well as him contemplating what has happened. Simile and ‘burnished’ reflect grandeur/ wealth. Question again reflects Mrs’ M’s disbelief. Contrasted with ‘laugh’ – Why? He sees what his selfishness has brought him? Is it his cruelty?
Appropriate choice of food – visually fitting. Horror of what is happening becomes apparent – Midas can’t even eat. Represents the fact that his greed and desire for wealth has brought him to this. Comic effect – Mrs M continues to go about her domestic chores despite absurd situation I served up the meal. For starters, corn on the cob.Within seconds he was spitting out the teeth of the rich.He toyed with his spoon, then mine, then with the knives, the forks.He asked where was the wine. I poured with shaking hand,a fragrant, bone-dry white from Italy, then watchedas he picked up the glass, goblet, golden chalice, drank. ‘shaking’ further emphasises Mrs M’s worry over what is happening. Alliteration/ Harshconsonant sounds add to the drama/ seriousness of the situation. ‘chalice’ often associated with the last supper. Use of a list, one thing after another, reflects growing realisation of Mrs M.
Horror/ Shock is combined with comedy – it seems absurd that both would be ‘calmed’ so quickly and that Mrs M would continue with her drink. Dramaticopening to stanza as both accept full reality of what has happened. ‘Scream’ demonstrates Mr’s M’s horror, while Midas ‘sinks to his knees’ in despair. It was then that I started to scream. He sank to his knees. After we had both calmed down, I finished the wine on my own, hearing him out. I made him sit on the other side of the room and keep his hands to himself. I locked the cat in the cellar. I moved the phone. The toilet I didn't mind. I couldn't believe my ears: Suggestion that Midas still seeks a physical relationship with Mrs M. The fact that he is made to sit on the other side of the room represents the distance in their relationship brought on by circumstances. Further comedy combined with Mrs’ M’s disbelief/ shock.
Enjambment reflects Mrs M’s disbelief as she hears the confession from Midas. The pun on ‘granted’, the rhetoricalquestion and the short one word sentence all convey a sense of disgust from Mrs M. how he'd had a wish. Look, we all have wishes; granted. But who has wishes granted? Him. Do you know about gold? It feeds no one; aurum, soft, untarnishable; slakes no thirst. He tried to light a cigarette; I gazed, entranced, as the blue flame played on its luteous stem. At least, I said, you'll be able to give up smoking for good. Further rhetorical question emphasises that Mrs M thinks wish was outrageous. Mrs M answers her own rhetorical question explicitly stating the foolishness of her husband’s wish
Central Concerns • Writers often use their work to discuss important issues and convey messages to the reader. What do you think are the central concerns (big issues) dealt with by Duffy in this poem? Why has she chosen to adopt the persona of King Midas’ wife?
Narrative Development Similar to the poem “Originally”, “Mrs Midas” has a strong sense of narrative development: we witness feelings develop throughout the text as the events unfold. As well as both poems dealing with emotional development, they also show development/movement through time, meaning both texts contain a strong sense of reflection.
Emotional Development The poem “Mrs Midas” can easily be separated into 6 sections with each section conveying a different feeling/idea: • Verses 1 & 2 = innocence • Verses 2 & 4 = consequence • Verses 5 & 6 = understanding • Verses 6 & 7 = mixed emotions – desire and fear • Verse 8 = separation • Verses 9 & 10 = loss For each section, select 2 quotations which highlight the identified feeling, analysing language as appropriate.
In “Mrs Midas” the dramatic monologue illustrates the breakdown of a relationship through highlighting her changing emotions whereas in “Havisham” the dramatic monologue illustrates the internal conflict causing the character to undergo a breakdown. • In “Mrs Midas” the phrase “ ……………………………………” emphasises ……………………………………………………….…… • In “Havisham” Duffy states “………………………….……….”, showing that ………………………………………………….……… • Also in “Havisham”, the quotation “………………………..” illustrates………………………………………………………………... • Finally in “Havisham” the phrase “………………..........…” conveys…………………………………………………………………
Poetry • Finish the questions on “Anne Hathaway” • Create 5 questions, including a 10 mark question, to test someone’s knowledge of the poem – write these on lined paper. • Create a poster in pairs/groups of three to illustrate your understanding of a theme present in Duffy’s poems.