How Does Duffy Vividly Portray her Mother and their Relationship in “Before You Were Mine”?
Firstly, there are several examples of Duffy implying a strong relationship of love and admiration between herself and her mother. For instance, this is conveyed when Duffy describes her mother’s polka dot dress as blowing around her legs, before referring to her as “Marilyn”. This immediately draws the audiences’s minds to the fifties, and the iconic image of the glamorous Marilyn Monroe with her polka dot dress blowing up. As well as helping the poem to get into the mood of this time period, comparing her mother to such a well-known and flamboyant figure shows the love and adoration that Duffy feels towards her mother, seeing her as someone who is just as beautiful as the famous film star, as well as a great role model. The same idea of admiration towards her mother is also demonstrated on several other occasions throughout the poem, for example in the phrase “in the ballroom, with the thousand eyes”. While this description could refer to the lights of a disco ball on the floor, it may also mean the many eyes of others, admiring Duffy’s perception of her mother: glamorous and attractive.
Secondly, Duffy implies that she perhaps feels some guilt towards her mother, an example being when she writes “I’m not here yet. The thought of me doesn’t occur”, before going on to describe the wild and carefree life that her mother had before she was born. This is suggesting that before Duffy arrived, her mother spent her blithe life simply living in the moment and enjoying the parties and movies that that came with her youth. Duffy seems to feel as though she, in some ways, ruined the life that her mother once had for the importance and responsibility of raising a child. This idea is also suggested in some of the language that appears later on in the poem, such as “ghost”and “relics”, both of which typically evoke connotations of death. Rather than referring to the physical...
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