How Does Carol Ann Duffy Present Women in Mrs Aesop and Litany?

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In both ‘Mrs Aesop’ and ‘Litany’ Duffy presents women at quite different angles. In ‘Mrs Aesop’ Duffy makes reference to women as blunt and constantly critisising, a trait that is very unusual for a feminist. Because of her jealousy she makes fun of his masculinity and insults him ‘the sex was diabolical’. Showing a stronger side to Mrs Aesop, but also a rather childish one. In Litany, the falseness of women’s lives and discussions are outlined. The child’s view on women meeting to look through a catalogue of furniture also suggests the material objects that were bought in the catalogue were a way of showing off to one another about their expenses ‘ passing the catalogue’.

In Litany especially Duffy’s use of plastic ‘cellophane’, ‘polyester’ and the ‘American tan’ tights illustrates her take on modern women at the time and the falseness that was brought into such an occasion, such as the meeting, unnecessarily. It could also be viewed as the plastic meaning suffocation and overpowering material goods that are not needed but somehow are the most important subjects to these women. These respectable women however in Duffy’s view are artificial and fake. They only talk about trivial subjects because ‘language embarrassed them’. This could mean a literal language such as swearing or a subject which is rude or not talked of in high society. Or meanings that they are uneducated or cannot express themselves well and therefore find it hard to communicate with each other.

However, this fakeness is broken by a simple thing that is not perfect. ‘An accident’ leads to chaos and embarrassment for the mother. The naïve nature of both the child and a reflection of this in the women whom are all trying to out compete each other leads to ‘uproar’. ‘My mother’s mute shame’ also indicates the lack of initiative, instead an overwhelming sense of embarrassment which illustrates the Duffy felt women were wrapped up in their own image and the aura created by them and their family....
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