Love and Despair

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Conor Young Havisham Essay

The dramatic monologue “Havisham” by poet Carol Ann Duffy is a very emotive piece with despair, heartbreak and violence intertwining throughout. Duffy explores the emotion of despair in great depth through the use of various writing techniques such as oxymoron's and imagery, in doing so it deepens the readers appreciation of the text. The dramatic monologue is based on a character from Charles Dickens novel “Great Expectations”. The main character Havisham is a lonely old spinster who on her wedding day was stood up at the alter and in turn this has left her bitter, violent and distraught. First of all, the poem starts off with the use of a great oxymoron which engages the reader straight away as it depicts Havisham's hate towards her former lover:

“Beloved sweetheart bastard”

Duffy's use of the oxymoron is an important start to her building up the emotion of despair. The contradiction of the words show exactly how Havisham feels about this man as she still loves him and yet resents him at the same time as he has left her broken hearted and nothing but an empty shell of a woman. It is in the character not having the ability to let go that creates the emotion of despair. This idea is all deepened with the use of sound as the harsh 'b' demonstrates the hate felt by Havisham and the soft 's' sound portrays the love that is still felt both of which deepen the original creation of despair. Moving on, and Duffy continues exploring the emotion of despair and deepens the overall impact that it has on the reader with clever use of onomatopoeia:

“Whole days cawing Nooo at the wall”

The imagery used by Duffy is very good at deepening the emotion of despair present in the text as the word 'cawing' has connotations of birds particularly crows making a hoarse raucous. This image creates an impression of Havisham in the readers...
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