First 513 words of the document:
About the poet
Carol Ann Duffy was born on December 23 1955, in Glasgow, Scotland's largest city.
Carol Ann was the eldest child, and had four brothers. She was brought up in Stafford, in
the north midlands, where her father was a local councillor, a parliamentary candidate for the
Labour Party in 1983 and manager of Stafford FC, an amateur football team. Carol Ann
Duffy was educated at St. Austin Roman Catholic Primary School, St. Joseph's Convent
School and Stafford Girls' High School. In 1974 she went Liverpool University, where she
She has worked as a freelance writer in London, after which she moved to live in
Manchester, where she currently (2002) teaches creative writing at the Metropolitan
University. Her first collection of poetry was Standing Female Nude (1985), followed by
Selling Manhattan (1987), The Other Country (1990), Mean Time (1993), The World's
Wife (1999) and The Feminine Gospels (2002). She has also written two English versions
of Grimm's folk tales, and a pamphlet, A Woman's Guide to Gambling, which reflects her
interest in betting.
Of her own writing she has said:
"I'm not interested, as a poet, in words like 'plash' Seamus Heaney words, interesting
words. I like to use simple words but in a complicated way."
She has a daughter, Ella (born in 1995) and lives in Manchester with her partner, the
novelist Jackie Kay. Carol Ann Duffy was awarded an OBE in 1995, and a CBE in 2002.
This poem is a monologue spoken by Miss Havisham, a character in Dickens' Great
Expectations. Jilted by her scheming fiancé, she continues to wear her wedding dress and
sit amid the remains of her wedding breakfast for the rest of her life, while she plots revenge
on all men. She hates her spinster state of which her unmarried family name constantly
reminds her (which may explain the choice of title for the poem).
She begins by telling the reader the cause of her troubles her phrase "beloved sweetheart
bastard" is a contradiction in terms (called an oxymoron). She tells us that she has prayed so
hard (with eyes closed and hands pressed together) that her eyes have shrunk hard and her
hands have sinews strong enough to strangle with which fits her murderous wish for
revenge. (Readers who know Dickens' novel well might think at this point about Miss
Havisham's ward, Estella her natural mother, Molly, has strangled a rival, and has unusually
Miss Havisham is aware of her own stink because she does not ever change her clothes
nor wash. She stays in bed and screams in denial. At other times she looks and asks herself
"who did this" to her? She sometimes dreams almost tenderly or erotically of her lost lover,
but when she wakes the hatred and anger return. Thinking of how she "stabbed at the
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The poem is written in four stanzas which are unrhymed. Many of the lines run on, and the
effect is like normal speech. The poet
uses many adjectives of colour "green", "puce", "white" and "red" and
lists parts of the body "eyes", "hands", "tongue", "mouth", "ear" and "face".
Sometimes the meaning is clear, but other lines are more open and there are hints of
violence in "strangle", "bite", "bang" and "stabbed".…read more