All the poems you have read are preoccupied with violence and/or death. Compare the ways in which the poets explore this preoccupation. What motivations or emotions do the poets suggest lie behind the preoccupation?
You must analyse at least six poems, ensuring you include at least one pre-1914 poem.
In this essay I will compare and contrast a collection of different poems by Carol Anne Duffy, Robert Browning, Ben Johnson and Simon Armitage.
I will discuss the similarities by which these poems explore themes of death and violence through the language, structure and imagery used. In some of the poems I will explore the characters’ motivation for targeting their anger and need to kill towards individuals they know personally whereas others take out their frustration on innocent strangers. On the other hand, the remaining poems I will consider view death in a completely different way by exploring the raw emotions that come with losing a loved one.
Despite the differences between the characters in the poems, I will also go on to say how the preoccupation with death and violence all seem to stem from the apparently unstable minds of the characters; from the instability brought on by varying emotions such as grief, jealousy, resentment, guilt and madness, and the fact that these emotions may lead to paranoia.
‘Havisham’ is a poem about a woman (based on the character from Charles Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’ of the same name) who lives alone, often confining herself to one room and wallowing in self-pity because she was apparently jilted at the alter by her scheming fiancé. ‘Havisham’ has been unable to move on from this trauma and is trapped in the past. Her isolation has caused her to become slightly mad.
She feels so terrorized that she cannot bare another man again, we see her ‘pray’ for the death of not just the man who jilted her, but any man in vengeance for her own agony and revenge.
Similarly in ‘The Laboratory’ Browning presents us with a paranoid woman who has been left by her lover for another woman, and is so consumed in her jealousy and need for revenge that she actually goes to an apothecary to make some poison with which to murder her foe in a casual yet gruesome manner.
Likewise in ‘Salome’ Duffy also presents us with a woman who seams mad or gives the impression that she is out of control. This character appears to be a sex crazed alcoholic who sleeps with myriad men only to kill them nonchalantly either for entertainment or because she has some sort of strange vendetta against men.
Both women in ‘The Laboratory’ and ‘Havisham’ are very revengeful and livid but articulate their feelings in different ways.
Havisham wants vengeance and she wants to do something about it but she is still too traumatised by her emotions, she feels too feeble to do anything, she is so fixated with herself all she is doing is sitting in her old ‘yellowing’ wedding dress feeling sorry for herself, rotting in her own...