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Carol Ann Duffy Two Poems
Theme Mrs T Discovering identity “impatient to be grown” Standing... Asserting identity “I fill myself with wine and dance around bars”
Character Mrs T The girl is imaginative: “You could travel up the Blue Nile” Uncomfortable: “untidy, hot...fractious” Dependent on another for affection: “Mrs Tilscher loved you” Strong: “ran through the gate...impatient to be grown” Standing... Imaginative: “the Queen of England gazing on my shape” At times, uncomfortable in her own body: “My breasts hang slightly low” Dependent: “I [am concerned]with the next meal” Ultimately strong and independent:“Little man...”
Structure Four stanzas The first two lead the reader to believe we know the persona innocent and happy: “The laugh of a bell” (Mrs T) practical but exploited: “for a few francs” (SFN) But Duffy cleverly hints at how the poem will progress able to console herself with her imagination and humour: “the bourgeoisie will coo” (SFN) aware of the darker side of human nature: “Brady and Hindley...the faint uneasy smudge” (Mrs T)
A clear turning point: “Over the Easter term...” (Mrs T) “Little man, you’ve not the money” (SFN) Skilful linking within the poem: “Enthralling books...appalled” (Mrs T) “Six hours...Twelve francs” (SFN) And a positive climax asserting the strength of the character described: “It does not look like me.” (SFN) “...impatient to be grown.” (Mrs T)
Language Effective use of sentence structure to convey ideas: “Coloured shapes.” - minor, memories (Mrs T) “And do try to keep still” – imperative, power that Georges has over her (SFN) Use of sound: “chanted...Tana. Ethiopia. Khartoum. Aswan.” “Magnificent she murmurs moving on” Directness: “Belly nipple arse...” “This was better than home.” Animal imagery: “the bourgeoisie will coo.” “a line of kids, jumping and croaking”
Theme Both poems explore ideas of identity ‘In Mrs Tilscher’s Class’ describes a girl struggling to find her identity, distinct from the teacher she worshipped and the child that she once was ‘Standing Female Nude’ depicts a woman struggling to assert her identity, independent despite the attempted dominance of the artist and what poverty has forced her to do to survive
Choose a poem in which the speaker’s personality is gradually revealed. Show how, through the content and language of the poem, aspects of the character gradually emerge Choose two poems by the same poet which you consider similar in theme and style. By referring to theme and style in both poems, discuss which poem you prefer.