In The World’s Wife Carol Ann Duffy focuses on the negative aspects of relationships. Explore this statement using at least three poems from the collection.
Throughout this essay I will be analysing Duffy’s handling of themes throughout a selection of her poems in The World’s Wife, as well as evaluating the effect of Duffy’s stylistic features on the reader throughout the poems. In Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife, the relationships between characters are portrayed in a mostly negative light. To a certain extent, the collection seems to focus on the negative aspect of relationships, however there are also poems which explore the more positive implications of relationships. The poem ‘Demeter’ explores the idea of maternal love and the grief of a mother without her daughter, and the sonnet ‘Anne Hathaway’ describes the memory of the loving relationship between Anne Hathaway and her husband. Throughout the collection Duffy puts a spin on the famous fairy-tales and mythological stories by giving the point of view of the female characters instead of the usual male hero. Duffy expresses feminist views throughout the collection and her presentation of heterosexual relationships shows that she believes the woman is often viewed as a possession of the man. An example of this can be seen in the titles of the poems, in which the characters are referred to as the wife of the usual hero, such as ‘Mrs Midas’, ‘Pilate’s Wife’ and ‘Pygmalion’s Bride’.
The first poem in the collection, ‘Little Red Cap’, gives clearly negative connotations regarding relationships. As it is the first poem in the collection, it sets the mood for the rest of the collection to the reader. The poem is based on the fairy-tale ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ as well as the Brothers Grimm’s tale which shares the same name as the poem. Duffy has also included autobiographical references, such as her relationship at a young age with a much older poet, and has said that Little Red Cap is a version of herself (Wood, 2005.) In Duffy’s version of the tale, a sixteen-year-old girl becomes attracted to the wolf, an older male poet and journeys into the “edge of the woods” which may be seen to represent the unknown of sexual experiences and adulthood that Little Red Cap discovers later in the poem (Duffy, 1999, p3.) ‘Little Red Cap’ is written in the form of a dramatic monologue, there are seven stanzas and the stanzas have six lines each however the lines are of irregular length. The long length of the lines produces a conversational narrative style, and the use of enjambment throughout the poem also adds to this effect. The use of stanzas in the poem helps give an episodic progression to the story. The use of colloquial language such as “You might ask why. Here’s why” helps create the conversational tone in the poem. Duffy uses various literary techniques to express the idea of negative relationships throughout the poem. The use of the simile “Kept, like mistresses, by kneeling...