Mrs Midas by Carol Ann Duffy- Poetry Analysis

A poetry analysis on "Mrs Midas", a poem made by Carol Ann Duffy.

-Done By: Christina Nursalim 

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The poem revolves around the idea on the implications of greed and how it can affect relationships
and marriage. The poem originates from the ancient Greek mythology, `Midas and his Golden Touch'.
The tenor of the poem is also personal and conversational. It has a powerful meaning and moral to
it---Be careful what you wish for. The poem is written in a woman's point of view, and it conveys the
negative characteristics of man; `idiocy, greed and selfishness'. The poem is descriptive to make the
reader feel like they are in the situation themselves and to make the setting more realistic. The
structure of the poem has 11 stanzas with 6 lines in each and the tone of the poem gradually
changes from the first stanza to the last.
In the first stanza, the tone of the poem was relaxing and calm and the setting was set in September,
in "Mrs Midas'" kitchen, where she was preparing dinner for her husband. In the first stanza, the
writer uses rhyming wordplay, such as "I'd just poured a glass of wine, begun to unwind," and also
uses personification ("its steamy breath gently blanching the windows") to make the kitchen seem
alive. The writer also uses a metaphor ("wiped the other's glass like a brow"). In the 2nd stanza, the
tone of the poem changes to surprising and incredulous. The perception of the reader changes
because in the second stanza, the setting is described as hazy ("the garden was long and the visibility
poor"). Descriptive words is also used to help the reader imagine and also to dramatize the setting,
("the way the dark of the ground seems to drink the light of the sky"). The writer also uses the type
of pear (Fondante d'Automne) to imply that the season is Autumn and also uses a metaphor, (sat in his
palm like a light bulb), which is used to describe that the pear is turned to gold. The poet continues to
use rhyming wordplay and metaphors in the 3rd stanza (e.g. "He drew the blinds. You know the mind;"
and "like a king on a burnished throne"). The writer also describes her husband's facial expression as
strange, wild and vain, which implies that her husband is still in the stage where he is proud of his new
"ability". In the 4th stanza, the implications of greed are shown more clearly and the writer uses basic
everyday examples to give more impact. For example, it shows how "Mrs Midas'" husband can no
longer do simple things such as eat and drink ("he was spitting out the teeth of the rich), which we
need for survival. This shows that because of his greed, he has given up his life. The writer also uses
wordplay to show clearly how the glass is changed into gold ("glass, goblet, golden chalice").
In the 5th stanza, the tone of the poem once again changes to terror and in the 6th stanza, the tone
changes again to anger and disappointment. The 6th stanza shows how the writer thinks her husband
is stupid for wishing for gold ("do you know about gold? It feeds no one; aurum, soft, untarnishable;
slakes no thirst"). In the 7th and 8th stanza, the tone is sad as the writer can no longer sleep on the
same bed with her husband for fearing to be turned to gold ("I feared his honeyed embrace, the kiss
that would turn my lips to a work of art"). The writer talks about the "halcyon days" where they
were passionate, and uses metaphors (`like presents', `like a precious latch') and alliteration (`fast
food', `streaming sun'). The description of her "golden" baby is ironic as the baby is described as
"perfect" but in reality, is a statue. In the 9th and 10th stanza, the implications of greed is shown by
how the husband is now starving and delirious (he was thin, delirious; hearing, he said, the music of
Pan from the woods) since he can no longer eat. The husband had to move out like a convict (`under
cover of dark') and the tone is once again sad and nostalgic as the writer describes herself as the
"woman who married the fool who wished for gold". Mrs Midas' love for her husband is also shown
here as she still visits her husband in the woods.
Finally in the last stanza, the tone is despondent and desolate, with the writer reminiscing her
marriage and how sad she is from the selfishness of her husband ("what gets me now is not the
idiocy or greed but lack of thought for me") and the last line of the stanza is the most moving and
filled with nostalgia and regret ("I miss most, even now, his hands, his warm hands on my skin, his
touch") and leaves a lingering impression on the reader and makes them see the victim as Mrs Midas
and feel sorry for her. The poem uses the story in an imaginative way to explore human greed and
how it can affect relationships.

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