In Carol Ann Duffy’s poem Salome, the main character (Salome) directly refers to Salome in the New Testament of the Bible. Two references, in the Gospels according to Mark and Mathew, give us the background to her character. Briefly, she danced for her father, King Herod, on his birthday. King Herod was delighted and said that he would give Salome whatever she asked for. Salome, prompted by her mother Herodias, asked for the head of John the Baptist, who had said Herodias’ marriage to Herod was unlawful. Herod, for his oath’s sake, sent an executioner to John the Baptist, who was in prison. His head was brought to Salome ‘in a dish’, and she presented it to her mother. Christian traditions depict her as an icon of dangerous female seductiveness; notably in regard to the dance mentioned in the New Testament. I will be exploring how Duffy develops the themes of loneliness and death in this poem.
Firstly, the structure of Salome is odd as it has stanzas and lines of various different lengths. The poem doesn’t follow any particular structure. However, what one may infer from the various different line lengths is the illustration of dripping blood as you turn the page sideways. Although this may be a simple coincidence, I think that Carol Ann Duffy uses this technique to inform the theme of bloodiness and death to the reader from the very start of the poem.
“I’d done it before”. Carol Ann Duffy sets the tone of the poem at the very start, the line suggests some deed or event has taken place. The character, Salome, has done something that she has, quite literally, done before. Not necessarily a bad deed, in fact it maybe an ordinary routine for Salome. However, the line seems to hint some feeling of regret or guilt as it’s meaningless for Salome to explain that she’s done a meaningless routine and obviously, she will do it again. The reader gets the feeling that something bad has happened “and doubtless I’ll do it again, sooner or later”.... [continues]
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