Anne Hathaway by Carol Anne Duffy Background and Narrative Voice: Anne Hathaway was Shakespeare's wife. Shakespeare left for her in his will their second best bed. While a lot of Shakespeare scholars assume that this was a sign that Shakespeare didn't love her, Duffy interprets the will differently in the poem. The second best bed in "Anne Hathaway" is a symbol of love and devotion. Form: Duffy's Anne Hathaway is a sonnet spoken in the voice of Anne Hathaway. Because Duffy imagines the speaker as one distinct character, we can call this poem a dramatic monologue. Anne Hathaway is written in the form of a sonnet. It follows the most basic sonnet rule in that it has fourteen lines. However, it breaks a lot of rules. It has no formal rhyme scheme and its meter isn’t always exactly iambic pentameter.
Anne Hathaway by Carol Anne Duffy • Form (continued): Why does the speaker (Hathaway) choose to narrate her thoughts in the form of a sonnet? • Perhaps as a tribute to her lost husband who devoted his life to producing sonnets and poetry? • To represent her love for him? Remember that the sonnet is often associated with the theme of love. • To help create a realistic speaking voice? The rhythm involved in iambic pentameter if often said to mimic natural speaking voice. • Perhaps the fact that it is not a perfect sonnet is a tribute in itself. It is as if Hathaway is saying to her late husband that only he is capable of creating a perfect sonnet.
Anne Hathaway by Carol Anne Duffy • Theme: The main themes/ ideas in the poem are: • Love • Loss/ Death • Literature/ Writing
This metaphor represents Hathaway and Shakespeare’s relationship – ‘spinning’ has connotations of dizziness and excitement while ‘world’ emphasises the idea that they meant ‘everything’ to one another. The fact that this ‘spinning world’ was their bed implies their close intimate relationship. Duffy gets us to question the judgements we make on first impressions. Past tense represents Hathaway’s loss ‘Item I gyve unto my wife my second best bed…’ The bed we loved in was a spinning worldof forests, castles, torchlight, clifftops, seaswhere he would dive for pearls. All these words have connotations which imply something about their relationship. Be imaginative in your response: ‘forests’: something to be explored, adventure?; ‘castles’: romance, fairytales; ‘torchlight’: idea of the unknown – an exciting relationship?; ‘clifftops, seas’: romance and adventure/ ‘dive for pearls’ again suggests the excitement in their relationship. It suggests adventure and that their relationship was filled with treasures.
Enjambment draws out attention to ‘lover’s words’ emphasising the importance of Shakespeare’s language Metaphor comparing Shakespeare’s language to stars (imagery that Shakespeare used himself in his most famous play about love!). Suggests that his language was heavenly, otherwordly, celestial, beautiful – for everyone to see. ‘…My lover's wordswere shooting stars which fell to earth as kisseson these lips; my body now a softer rhymeto his, now echo, assonance; his toucha verb dancing in the centre of a noun.’ Sibilance and assonance: soft sounds throughout the sonnet reflect the sensual nature of the relationship. Word choice: ‘softer’ ‘rhyme’ ‘echo’ add to this feeling Extended metaphor: Closeness of physical relationship compared with different poetic techniques. ‘my body… to his’ suggests closeness/ mutual understanding/ that they know each other intimately. ‘his touch a verb dancing in the centre of a noun’ – personification of ‘verb’ suggesting the energy/ excitement their intimacy brought her. Metaphor comparing his words to ‘kisses’. Suggests Shakespeare spoke affectionately/ lovingly to Hathaway. ‘…earth’ – intimate nature of his poetry.
Metaphor: Hathaway compares herself to one of Shakespeare’s sonnets – written through their passionate exchanges. It is almost as if she is his inspiration. She doesn’t just inspire him to create great literature – she actually becomes part of it. ‘Some nights, I dreamed he’d written me, the bed A page beneath his writer’s hands. Romance And drama played by touch, by scent, by taste. Word choice: Different senses appealed to indicating again the passion and sensual nature of their relationship. Word choice: Again, Duffy combines Shakespeare’s literature with his relationship with Hathaway. A sense of excitement and passion in their relationship is suggested.
Metaphor: Hathaway imagines the guests in the next room, “dribbling their prose”, whilst herself and her husband create poetry and drama. There is the sense that others’ relationships lack the passion and excitement of Shakey and Hathaway. ‘Dribbling’ implies something dull, clumsy, unattractive, while they enjoy a relationship filled with ‘drama’, ‘romance’ and is overwhelming in that it gives every sense pleasure. In the other bed, the best, our guests dozed on, dribbling their prose.
Repetition of soft ‘l’ sound: Reflects the ‘poetic’ beauty of their relationship (contrasts on the same line with ‘dribbling their prose) My living laughing love- I hold him in the casket of my widow’s head as he held me upon that next best bed. Imagery (metaphor): Rather than being buried or cremated, Hathaway keeps Shakespeare alive in her mind/ imagination. This can be seen as a further tribute to Shakespeare’s own imagination/ creativity. It also indicates that only Hathaway ever truly knew her husband.