Poem Analysis: Medusa by Carol Ann Duffy

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Medusa by Carol Ann Duffy

The poem Medusa explores the theme of jealousy and anger; the poet illustrates this using the extended metaphor of a Greek mythological creature Medusa, whose story describes her as a beautiful maiden that is turned into a hideous creature after being raped by Poseidon. The poet furthermore links this metaphor to the theme of feminism when she describes the women in the poem overpowering the man that hurt her.

The language in this poem is quite harsh, emphasising the anger ‘Medusa’ feels for this man. There is a lexical field of destruction and disgust ‘shattered’ ‘filthy’ ‘stank’ that connotes the negative feelings of envy and fury that the poet is feeling. The poem as a whole is very figurative, mirroring the incredibly powerful feelings that the poet is trying to portray. The poem skips between first person point of view and second person point of view. This signifies the focus of the poem. It is mainly about the woman ‘Medusa’ turning into the hideous creature and using her newfound abilities to harm this man. The second point of view ‘Are you terrified?’ highlights the aim of this poem, and singles this one man out. The direct questions almost strips him of any anonymity and allows the reader to imagine this man, standing there helplessly, terrified, under Medusa’s gaze.

The imagery in this poem is very powerful and disgusting to portray the terror that Medusa represents. The initial ‘transformation’ ‘turned the hairs on my head to filthy snakes’ signifies the monster that this woman turned into out of jealousy. ‘Filthy snakes’ suggests that now she is not only gruesome looking, but also dangerous and thus connoting the idea of her becoming stronger than before. ‘My thoughts hissed and spat on my scalp’ portrays a disturbing image that emphasises the disgust and jealousy the poet is feeling. The personification of thoughts ‘thoughts hissed’ connotes outrage and anger. It signifies how furious this woman is but also...
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