Duffy's use of motherhood - links across poems

Carol Ann Duffy revision. Section B of the English Literature AS exam. (For Thursday 12th January 2012)

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  • Created by: Tayler
  • Created on: 07-01-12 23:07

Pope Joan + Mrs Midas + Thetis

Gaining an identity after childbirth

Thetis "When the child burst out" she has her own identity.

Pope Joan "In my miracle" she finds herself "not a man or a pope at all".

Are their lives fulfilled? 

Pope Joan is complete after having a child. She describes child birth as miraculous and something that brought her closer to God than anything else in her life.

Mrs Midas realises she will never be complete as she can't have a child with her husband. We know this because he has the "Midas touch" where everything he touches turns to gold. 

Having a child is the ultimate spiritual female experience (Pope Joan, Frau Freud, Thetis).

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Thetis + The Devil's Wife

Both try to please men

Thetis keeps changing in order to please the man, however "when the child burst out" she has her own identity and it cannot be taken away from her.

The Devil's Wife follows orders from the male and keeps doing what he instructs "he made me bury a doll" because she's "nobody's mam" it suggests that she has no maternal instinct. She is bitter and has nothing to stop her from doing what he asks. 

The difference between the two: 

Thetis is able to stop trying to please 'him' and does what she wants after giving birth, yet The Devil's Wife carry's on doing what she's told because there is no child to save her from herself and her life. 

The ability to have or not have children and protect them, drives them to do dangerous things. 

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Extra notes/Conclusive points

MOTHERHOOD - Identity, voice, fulfilment - conclusion

  • Sense of identity not controlled by men (Thetis).
  • Death of a child can alter identity (Mrs Lazarus).
  • Overwhelms a woman's sense of completeness (Demeter + Pope Joan).

Women should avenge the silence of their mothers and grandmothers. It is about the idea of breaking free. (Little Red Cap + Demeter).

  • Little Red Cap: Bring's the grandmother's voice into the open.
  • Demeter: Persephone's voice is brought back.

Giving back to generations of women who have been silenced a voice

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Thetis does not keep on changing to please men but to escape from the man who is pursuing her. she changes for survival as she feels she cannot be in the grasp of men.

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