‘Medusa’ and ‘Les Grands Seigneurs’
The two poems; ‘Medusa’ and ‘Les Grands Seigneurs’ (LGS) have their similarities and differences. The most obvious being both speakers are women and how they subdue men. However, the most apparent difference is the way both poets present character, with ‘Medusa’ and her jealousy and mistrust towards her partner; ‘…a doubt, a jealously’. The standards of a woman are lowered; she is bitter, vicious and twisted. Having snakes for hair and revealing the monster she has become, whereas in LGS the dominance and prowess of the woman is expressed, men desperate for her attention; ‘my hurdy-gurdy monkey-men’. Almost as if she has the men on strings, the woman, a courtesan, is firmly in control. On the other hand, little can be said for ‘Medusa’ as the poem revolves around fear and revulsion; ‘be terrified’ and ‘yellow fanged’, being the complete opposite of the courtesan, a demise of evil.
In ‘Medusa’ we notice that sibilance is a key method to portray her character, with Carol Ann Duffy constantly relating ‘Medusa’ back to snakes and the repetitive ‘S’ sound; ‘hissed and spat on my scalp’ and ‘…hairs on my head to filthy snakes’. The use of sibilance, closely tied in with assonance, is these techniques link words within phrases, making them more memorable and emphatic. Furthermore we are called towards the poem through sibilance as it calls to mind the sound of the snake and her description as ‘Medusa’. Comparing this to LGS, it is clear that sibilance has not been used in the same, sophisticated way due to the contrast between both poems. ‘Medusa’ being about all that is evil and so references snakes (The Garden of Eden and Satan) but the courtesan being a dominant, out-of-reach woman, commanding men at her will.
Leading on from earlier points about the courtesan being able to seduce men so easily, contrasting this with ‘Medusa’ she tried desperately to cling to