I Give You An Onion Essay

910 words - 4 pages

At first glance, Carol Ann Duffy’s poem Valentine, seems to be a simple poem with a simple concept: love, at least in the eyes of the speaker, is like an onion. The poem tells the story of the speaker giving her significant other an onion for valentines day and shows her justifiying her gift, how it truly embodies the love between her and her lover. The speaker also criticizes the stereotypical gifts usually given during valentines day, saying how unlike an onion, it does not show the complexity or sincerity of love. In Valentine, Duffy prevails the multi-layeredness of love (pun not intended) in the eyes of the speaker and how she attributes the properties of an onion to those of the love between her and her lover by using structure and metaphors.
To illustrate what love means to her speaker, Duffy uses multidimensional metaphors that support and accompany her base metaphor: how love is like an onion. Duffy’s first usage of metaphor is surprisingly not the main one, how love is like an onion, but rather saying how her present isn’t one of the stereotypical gifts given on valentines day: “Not a red rose or a satin heart.” (Duffy 1). The speaker finds fault in these stereotypical metaphors for love, contrasting them with the onion, and showing how they do not symbolise what love really is: “Not a cute card or a kissogram./I give you an onion.” (Duffy 12,13). To help justify the speaker’s gift, Duffy incorporates metaphors to explain why an onion is the perfect symbol for love. For example in the second stanza, Duffy compares the onion both physically and metaphorically to the moon: “It is a moon wrapped in brown paper./It promises light” (Duffy 3,4). Physically, they are both spherical and only show their bright centers when something else is enabled. In the onion’s case it is when its brown layers are taken off and in the case of the moon it is at nighttime, when it reflects the sun’s light. This comparison by the speaker might suggest how dependance is crucial in her definition of love and how her presenting the onion symbolises her giving a part of herself to her love, a part that will only show its bright interior in the presence of her companion. The second part of the metaphor presents a somewhat ominous tone, how the presence of this brightness is only a promise and that it is not guaranteed that may perhaps foreshadow a coming obstacle in the lives of the two lovers. Another example of Duffy's incorporation of metaphor is found in the third stanza: "It will blind you with tears/like a lover."...

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