Tall: Carol Ann Duffy - Page 23

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  • Tall - Carol Ann Duffy: page 23
    • Stanza 7
      • "She bowed herself into a bar"
        • Play-on-words: combining figurative and literal meaning.
        • Successfully upwardly mobile people tailor their surroundings to their taste.
          • She is desiring to enter a bar - like a servant or peasant through the motion of bowing.
            • Trying to fit into a new environment, adapting herself. Showing the want for social mobility, but lacks the skills.
          • Play-on-words: combining figurative and literal meaning.
        • The language lacks clarity - suggesting her drunken state.
          • It is unclear if it was free, or "on the house" in a literal sense because she has become so large.
            • "A drunk passed out or fainted" - This demonstrates that she has no concept of reality because her size withholds, so she is out of touch with society.
    • Stanza 8
      • "..called for another gin" - a drink usually associated with aggression; evoking pity as the woman turns to alcohol to regain purpose.
        • ", a large one." - The relative idea of size has been distorted, because we do not know if "large" is comparable to her, or our understanding of large.
      • Being unaware of who she is when she first looks in the mirror signifies that she has lost a sense of self: "She saw a face...Herself"
        • Having the declarative sentence broken up with full stops shows that her thoughts have become fragmented. So the way the reader reads the sentence, parallels the non-linear stream of conscience the persona has.
    • Stanza 9
      • Duffy underplays the persona's drunken stupor: "...her head in her hands in the hall."
        • The h is a voiceless glottal fricative ( which means that the sound is made with the motion of your vocal chords but is not voiced).
          • Imitates being out of breath - indicating her struggle with her ongoing growth. Magnifying her realisation that upward social mobility is not necessarily the joyous ideal that it is made out to be.
      • "More tall" can also be seen as a homophone because it sounds like "mortal" - showing that although her size makes her appear as mythical (giants) she still possess to infallible qualities.
        • Religion
        • Reality
        • Gifts that are actually burdens.
    • Stanza 10
      • "She needed a turret" - Her anxiety and lack of direction has limited her pragmatical thinking.
        • The archaic language, "turret" links to the final line "burning towers". The medieval images evoked shows that Duffy may be trying to portray that women who rise up have always been treated the same - ostracised.  (Iconography - the visual images and symbols used in a work of art or the study or interpretation of these.)
    • Stanza 11
      • "But pilgrims came-" This is where she resides the longest throughout the poem.
        • She has been here so long, but she has not helped anyone = she has become so socially mobile, that she become a deity.
      • Her isolation is magnified through "She was 30 foot, growing, could see fore miles". Her 'gift' has become so extreme she has been pushed to the outskirts of society. Her social mobility leads her to defy the expected norm for women, and the balance between success and being-level headed has defied her.
      • Feminine is isolated and ultimately eternal - patriarchy: "men on stilts", trying to oppress he even though she is taller - trying to reassert their dominance.
    • Stanza 12
      • "She upped sticks" - the idiomatic phrase highlights how she has become isolated, and she has yet again been alienated by another society.
      • Her gift of social mobility has become her downfall because people start to question the point of a gift, if she does not utilise it.
        • Highlighted through "...crowds swarmed around her feet, chanting." The past tense verb "swarmed" gives the impression that the residents are insects - bees swarm. The reader has become the Queen Bee, but the people have lost their respect within the colony.
    • Stanza 13
      • "She cured no one" - social mobility does not necessarily help people - social construction that people aim for. The speaker breaks the glass ceiling by partially achieving it, but Duffy is trying to suggest that successful are still deemed as socially undesirable.
      • "The moon came closer at night" The moon is not only a feminine symbol but its phases symbolise immortality and eternity/enlightenment or dark side of nature. So the speaker is becoming more aware of the ever changing cycle of life, physically and ideological from the moon getting closer.
        • "...Its scarred face an old mirror". Seeing her reflection means that she is seeing the truth, that mobility is not the aspiration that it has been portrayed as. However, in psychology, mirrors are used to look at the subconscious.So the reader is looking at herself in ways that she cannot comprehend nor the reader.
          • Sylvia Plath - Mirrors, as a woman grows older she looks at her reflection and her future self. In this poem, the speaker looks into the mirror as she grows taller, and sees her present self.
      • "She slept outdoors, stretched across empty fields or sand." The use of sibilance mimics the sound of the sand she lies on, so it gives the impression that she has a restless sleep because her height is a physically and emotionally daunting aspect.
    • Speaker is anonymous and line links to Anon because it refers to a shelf ("behind the top shelf. Herself.")
    • Links to Loud and History- Monosyllabic and enjambment.




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