The World’s Wife- Carol Ann Duffy Notes
Context on CAD
-Born in 1955
-Appointed Poet Laureate in 2009
-Writes mostly in dramatic monologue
-Known for social commentary/serious insights in humorous poems
In World’s Wife:
-Writes from the POV of female characters, usually ones with male counterparts -Purpose is to raise awareness of such understated characters -and to reinvent them opposed to traditionally held views- finding fresh ways of looking at familiar things.
Why does she write sonnets/dramatic monologue?
Sonnets- similar to prayers, easy to learn by heart, about things that matter to us (love). Like magic, spells.
Little Red Cap
Based on Little Red Riding Hood-fairytale, and CAD’s relationship with Adrian Henri- Red cap and the wolf representing her and him. Describes their relationship- she was 16 and he was 39. He was a famous poet/music artist, and she learned from him as a teenager.
Challenge idea that young girl must be innocent-traditional norm Challenge idea that wolf must always be the bad guy- quite ambiguous throughout the poem Imply that women in literature are repressed.
Title gives reader first impressions- reminder fairytale “What big eyes, what big teeth” Impressions broken soon
Used to create sexual feelings
Instead of being innocent, she is a “Lolita”- sexually precocious young girl Not good v bad like original- girl is sly, gets what she wants. wolf is a well learned, literary rogue. Nonchalant “Away from home, to a dark tangled thorny place”. loss of innocence Symbolism
Used to initially illustrate innocence
“sweet sixteen, never been, babe, waif, and bought me a drink”- here it begins very innocent, but soon progresses into words (babe, waif) which represent older, more sexually mature females “And went in search of a living bird – white dove” paired with “one bite, dead” shows wolf=powerful, traditionally masculine Used to create sense of lack of innocence
“My stockings ripped to shreds, scraps of red from my blazer snagged on twig and branch”. usage of red-sexual connotations Used to create a sense of escapism-
the silent railway line, the hermit's caravan
Sense of escapism- emphasizes this is a new world she is entering. At childhood's end: childhood so powerful: physical
“I took an axe to the wolf
as he slept, one chop, scrotum to throat, and saw
the glistening, virgin white of my grandmother’s bones.” Girl becomes less innocent
Wolf is thought to be bad due to original story, seems neutral throughout poem, reader realizes he is bad due to swallowing grandmother’s bones.
Grandmother’s bones also demonstrate the repressed voice of women in literature
Context: Pilate was the governor of the Roman province of Judea at the time of Jesus’s death- had the choice to choose whether to crucify Barabbas, a criminal or Jesus. Found Jesus to be innocent, but gave in to demands of Jewish crowds to crucify him. Pilate’s wife was only mentioned once- she sent a message to Pilate saying “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, because in a dream last night, I suffered much on account of him.” Pilate ignored his wife’s advice
To evoke feelings of disgust and revulsion at Pilate To portray Pilate’s wife’s views toward Jesus in a different light- traditionally she
To do with hands- showing Pilate’s softness woman’s hands=lazy, no hard work “then carefully turned up his sleeves, and slowly washed his useless, perfumed hands.” Synaesthesia used- describes his touch as pale
Choice of words
To do with hands- showing Pilate’s softness woman’s hands=lazy, no hard work “then carefully turned up his sleeves and slowly washed his useless, perfumed hands.” Reference to moths- they are indecisive, flitting around everything
Comparison of Pilate to a moth is...
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