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Salome – Carol Ann Duffy. Never again! I needed to clean up my act, get fitter, cut out the booze and the fags and the sex. Yes. And as for the latter, it was time to turf out the blighter, the beater or biter, who'd come like a lamb to the slaughter to Salome's bed.

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Presentation Transcript
slide1

Salome – Carol Ann Duffy

Never again!

I needed to clean up my act,

get fitter,

cut out the booze and the fags and the sex.

Yes. And as for the latter,

it was time to turf out the blighter,

the beater or biter,

who'd come like a lamb to the slaughter

to Salome's bed.

In tile mirror, I saw my eyes glitter.

I flung back the sticky red sheets,

and there, like I said -and ain't life a bitch -

was his head on a platter.

I'd done it before

(and doubtless I'll do it again,

sooner or later)

woke up with a head on the pillow beside me -whose? -

what did it matter?

Good- looking, of course, dark hair, rather matted;

the reddish beard several shades lighter;

with very deep lines around the eyes,

from pain, I'd guess, maybe laughter;

and a beautiful crimson mouth that obviously knew

how to flatter...

which I kissed...

Colder than pewter.

Strange. What was his name? Peter?

Simon? Andrew? John? I knew I'd feel better

for tea, dry toast, no butter,

so rang for the maid.

And, indeed, her innocent clatter

of cups and plates,

her clearing of clutter,

her regional patter,

were just what needed -

hungover and wrecked as I was from a night on the batter.

slide2

Who is Salome?

Salome is a woman in the New Testament. According to the Bible, Salome danced for Herod on his birthday. He was so impressed by her performance that he said she could have anything she wanted. She was prompted by her mother to ask for the head of John the Baptist after he was executed. The head was presented to her on a plate.

In this poem, Salome is presented as a cold, murderous woman in modern society. Duffy creates a modern persona for Salome.

slide3

This is not the first time this has happened.

She doesn’t feel any regret because she knows that she will do it again.

I'd done it before

(and doubtless I'll do it again,

sooner or later)

woke up with a head on the pillow beside me -whose? -

what did it matter?

She doesn’t know who the man is next to her and she doesn’t seem to care. She can’t remember who he is.

slide4

Good- looking, of course, dark hair, rather matted;

the reddish beard several shades lighter;

with very deep lines around the eyes,

from pain, I'd guess, maybe laughter;

and a beautiful crimson mouth that obviously knew

how to flatter...

which I kissed...

Colder than pewter.

Pewter = a type of metal.

This line makes the reader suspect the man is dead.

These quotes sound normal – his hair is matted, his beard is red, his lips are red.

But, we find out that the man is dead and the colouring is from the blood stains.

The tone of the poem is casual. Salome sounds like she’s having a chat with a friend. She doesn’t seem to take the incident seriously.

slide5

Strange. What was his name? Peter?

Simon? Andrew? John? I knew I'd feel better

for tea, dry toast, no butter,

so rang for the maid.

And, indeed, her innocent clatter

of cups and plates,

her clearing of clutter,

her regional patter,

She is trying to remember the man’s name. Duffy uses a list of biblical names – these link to the story of Salome.

The maid suggests that Salome is wealthy. The maid is making a lot of noise. This is emphasised by the use of onomatopoeia.

slide6

were just what needed -

hungover and wrecked as I was from a night on the batter.

Never again!

I needed to clean up my act,

get fitter,

cut out the booze and the fags and the sex.

This word has a double meaning – it could mean she’s been drinking. Or, it could have a more literal, violent meaning.

She is hungover from the night before. She says she will clean up her act and change her unhealthy lifestyle. Do you believe her? Remember at the start of the poem she said she’d “do it again”. She uses informal language.

slide7

Alliteration – the ‘b’ sound is quite harsh. These words suggest that Salome assumes the man is violent.

Yes. And as for the latter,

it was time to turf out the blighter,

the beater or biter,

who'd come like a lamb to the slaughter

to Salome's bed.

“lamb to the slaughter” is a Christian image of innocence. This contrasts the previous line – now the man is the victim.

slide8

This could show her evil side. It could also show that she is proud of what she’s done – she enjoyed what she did.

In tile mirror, I saw my eyes glitter.

I flung back the sticky red sheets,

and there, like I said -and ain't life a bitch -

was his head on a platter.

Salome doesn’t seem to care about what she’s done. She finally reveals that the man is dead and only his head is in the bed. She seems to enjoy letting the reader think she only slept with him – then she reveals the truth.

carol ann duffy s salome in a nutshell
Carol-Ann Duffy’s ‘Salome' in a nutshell!
  • Salome has become a serial remover of heads.
  • Having woken up with a severed head on the pillow, she cannot even remember the owner’s name!
  • She calls for the maid, has breakfast and decides to clean up her life.
slide10

Initially there doesn’t seem anything amiss. Many people wake up in bed with a stranger in the modern world. However, knowledge of the original Salome makes the words profoundly shocking.

Casual almost indifferent voice. Sex is casual.

I'd done it before

(and doubtless I'll do it again,

sooner or later)

woke up with a head on the pillow beside me -whose?

what did it matter?

Good- looking, of course, dark hair, rather matted;

the reddish beard several shades lighter;

Serial killer

Free verse. The narrator is just awakening.

Red theme

An arrogant voice. Sounds almost boastful. They only have good looking partners.

Lots of detail.

“The Godfather”

slide11

with very deep lines around the eyes,

from pain, I'd guess, maybe laughter;

and a beautiful crimson mouth that obviously knew

how to flatter...

which I kissed…

Colder than pewter.

Strange. What was his name? Peter?

The mouth is cold because he is dead. Kissing the decapitated head is depraved and shocking.

Red theme

Can’t remember his name! The murder is told in a very matter of fact way. Her lack of interest in the individual suggests she might be a psychopath

slide12

She is now more awake so the tempo picks up.

Simon? Andrew? John? I knew I'd feel better

for tea, dry toast, no butter,

so rang for the maid.

And, indeed, her innocent clatter

of cups and plates,

her clearing of clutter,

her regional patter,

were just what needed -

hungover and wrecked as I was from a night on the batter.

Names of the disciples. Link to the biblical roots of the poem.

A very simple breakfast sits in juxtaposition to the scale of her depravity.

Hard “c” sounds

Colloquial language. This makes it seem chatty and friendly which is at odds with the violence and the madness.

slide13

Doesn’t include murder in her list of things to cut back on.

Casual about these things. But also casual about killing

Never again!

I needed to clean up my act,

get fitter,

cut out the booze and the fags and the sex.

Yes. And as for the latter,

it was time to turf out the blighter,

the beater or biter,

who'd come like a lamb to the slaughter

to Salome's bed.

Hates the male sex. Misandry.

Simile

Use of the 3rd person. She is a force to be reckoned with.

slide14

Red theme

In the mirror, I saw my eyes glitter.

I flung back the sticky red sheets,

and there, like I said -and ain't life a bitch -

was his head on a platter.

Is she referring to herself? Or is it ironic sympathy for her victim?

Poem culminates in the decapitation. Echoes the original biblical story.