Anne Hathaway - Carol Ann Duffy

Context, Feelings attitudes and ideas, Language, Structure, and Writer's Purpose for 'Anne Hathaway' by Carol Ann Duffy.

  • Created by: sophie
  • Created on: 07-05-11 17:17


When Shakespeare died, he left his wife his 'second best bed' - some say that was out of spite, to insult the woman he never truly loved (he was rushed into marriage when Hathaway fell pregnant.)

However, Duffy takes on the perspective that this was the bed they made love in, that was special to them both (in Elizabethan times, the best bed was often left saved for guests.)

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Feelings, attitudes and ideas:

Hathaway deeply loved her husband, and is thinking of all the memories they shared together, especially in their marital bed.

She describes it as a 'spinning world of forests, castles, torchlight, clifftops, seas..' also using vivid descriptions such as 'My lover's words were shooting stars which fell to earth as kisses'.

She misses him, but does not feel sorry for herself, and is instead glad to have the memories of moments they shared together which she holds 'in the casket of my widow's head.'

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The poems consists of very rich, imaginative descriptions, using extended metaphors and imagery - this echoes the imagination and writings of Shakespeare himself.

There are also echoes to the fact that he was a playwright using lines like 'my body now a softer rhyme to his' 'assonance' '...he'd written me' 'a verb dancing in the centre of a noun', among others.

When she describes his words as shooting stars, this could mean that they are wondrous and spectacular, but very rare (as Shakespeare lived in London for the majority of their marriage.)

Also, many of the descriptions Duffy uses are quite suggestive, probably intended for the reader to view them that way - but it is all very romanticised. Hathaway obviously has clear memories, as she describes the 'touch' 'scent' and 'taste'.

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The poem is written as a sonnet - with iambic pentameters and lines with 10 syllables, which is based on the hundred of sonnets that Shakespeare used to write (most, with a theme of love.)

However, it only loosely follows the structure which could suggest the freedom and lack of constraint in their relationship.

Along with the iambic pentameter, the enjambment used also helps give the poem a flow, like natural speech - which could also link to the freedom of their relationship.

There is also significance of the hyphen used at the end of line twelve; it gives a short pause, which suggests Anne is reflecting on how much she really does miss her 'living laughing love' before describing how she still holds his memories

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Writer's Purpose

I think Duffy intended to present readers with an alternative view on why Shakespeare may have left Anne Hathaway his second best bed, presenting it in a very romantic, dramatic fashion to echo Shakespeare's own works.

She has done this very effectively, and is a very heartfelt poem which could be compared with 'On My First Sonne'.

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Key Quotes

"My lover's words were shooting stars which fell to earth as kisses"

"my body now a softer rhyme to his,"

"My living laughing love - I hold him in the casket of my widow's head"

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