Exam Response

Topics: Stanza, Youth, Childhood Pages: 6 (2290 words) Published: March 3, 2013
Exam Response A

Qu. 7 MARK 36

Carol Anne Duffy and Sheenagh Pugh both use their poetry to write about youth and the process of growing up. Although the write about many of the same ideas, such as the idea that the old prey upon the innocence of youth, their different approaches to the subject matter mean that the poems are often vastly different. In Lizzie, six, Carol Anne Duffy presents a dysfunctional relationship between a young girl and a man, possibly her father or step-father. Duffy presents the contrast between adulthood and youth through the use of two voices which contrast starkly with one another. The child’s voice begins with a very pleasant tone, with simple yet happy language. Words such as “moon… fields…love” are all very non-threatening, and imply a certain freedom, if only the child’s freedom of imagination. However, the tone of the child’s voice gradually becomes more sinister, until the final line “I’m afraid of the dark”. In addition to the common connotations of black representing evil and isolation, this could signify the change in the child, who, as she is growing up is forced to lose her youthful imagination and curiosity as a result of the abuse she suffers. The structure of Lizzie, six also creates tension. The division into five stanza’s of equal length, each with one question, the child’s answer and two lines of the adult’s response create an acute sense of repetition, and the repeated monotony of the structure echoes the repetitive nature of child abuse, which seems in this poem to be escalating. The fact that the final word of each stanza – “there… chair… stair… bare… care” rhymes adds to this dull throb of repetition. The contrast between the voice of Lizzie and her abuser is extreme, and perhaps Duffy wished for this contrast to reflect the changes one goes through in the transition from child to adult. One technique which highlights the contrast is the use of the same word by the child and adult. For example, “deep in the wood / I’ll give you wood” shows the destruction of youthful innocence and creates an extremely sinister tone, which in turn is designed to disturb the reader. Sheenagh Pugh approaches the idea of the contrast between youth and adulthood in a different way in her poem Sweet 18. This poem is written as a first person monologue, which makes the content more sinister and shocking to the reader as Pugh is exposing thought’s which would usually remain hidden. This poem also disturbs the reader, but unlike Duffy Pugh introduces the idea of a sexual relationship between the youth and woman. However, Pugh’s Sweet 18 is similar to Lizzie 6 in that it presents the adult as destroying the youth. This is perhaps most apparent in the line “of a young sapling / using his life, sucking it out of him”. This is clearly saying that, if given the chance, the old and mature can destroy the young. Lizzie six is not the only poem in which Duffy raises ideas surrounding youth. Boy is a first person monologue presented from the view of a man who wishes he was still young. This poem focuses on the security most people feel when they are children, and the line “The world is terror” clearly demonstrates that this voice has not made the usual transition from boy to teenager to man, and psychologically he feels more like a child. The character’s mental child-like state is conveyed by Duffy through a mixture of language and his use of short sentences. In this poem some sentences comprise of only one sentence, “Just like that. Whoosh. Hairy.” , and this simple structure projects the idea that the character feels like, and thus talks like, a child. However, in the last two stanzas the tone of the poem becomes a little more sinister. Firstly, Duffy suggests that this man had been in a sexual relationship with a woman who he called “Mummy”. This breaks a strict social taboo concerning parents, children and sexual relationships, and as a result of this the reader is somewhat...
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