Poetry Carol Ann Duffy annotations

Report
Thursday 21/11/2012
Aims and Objectives
-To contextualise the poem and poet.
-To introduce the class to the concept of the
dramatic monologue.
-To read and begin annotating and analysing
“Medusa” by Carol Ann Duffy.
Carol Ann Duffy
• Born in Glasgow, 1955.
• She is the first female AND the first Scottish Poet
Laureate – basically the national poet, traditionally
appointed by the queen.
• Her poems address issues such as oppression,
gender and violence in an accessible language.
• She likes to “use simple words, but in a
complicated way."
• “In each poem, I'm trying to reveal a truth”.
The Dramatic Monologue
Carol Ann Duffy is especially skilful in her use of
dramatic monologue, fashioning and assuming the
voices of mythological, historical, and fictive
characters, such as Medusa or Lazarus’s imaginary
wife.
Often she uses the dramatic monologue to give
voice to a silenced or marginalised female
perspective, wittily playing on the ironic contrast
between the traditional version of a narrative and
her own.
Three Features of Dramatic Monologue
1. The speaker of the poem is obviously not the poet.
The poet has adopted a specific persona and the
poem is about a specific situation at a critical
moment that applies to the character.
2. This person talks to and interacts with one or more
other people. We know of these others and what
they say and do, only from clues in the discourse of
the speaker.
3. The reason why the poet chooses to adopt a
particular persona and what they say in the poem
reveals to the reader, in a way that enhances its
interest, the speaker's temperament and character.
Activity
?
In pairs write a dramatic monologue, keep your persona a secret from the other
groups – they will have to guess who you are after.
You can be anyone you want, think of famous people or characters, or you could be
someone on the class…
1. Adopt a specific persona during a specific situation at a critical moment that
applies to the character.
2. Talk to and interact with one or more other people. Try not to be too obvious
about anything, only give clues in the discourse of the speaker.
3. What your persona says should reveal some aspect of the speaker's
temperament and character.
You have 5 minutes.
Activity 2 - Understanding
• The first poem we will be working with is
“Medusa”, by Carol Ann Duffy.
• Many of you will be familiar with the name
Medusa, but what do you know about her?
• Share your knowledge on a mind map on the
board.
Who is Medusa?
• The story of the Gorgon Medusa is both sad and deeply symbolic. Like
many of the great myths of the Western literary tradition, the story of
Medusa comes from Ancient Greece where our ancestors believed that
their lives were controlled by a host of different gods who lived high on
Mount Olympus. Chief among the gods was Zeus and his wife Hera.
However, many of the gods, Zeus included, liked to visit earth and follow
the lives of mortals. Zeus and many of his extended family were also
known to forge relationships with mortals, sometimes without their
permission, which saw many children born with godly heritage. In addition
to the gods there were also many monsters for mortals to cope with.
Many of the monsters started out as gods and mortals who had been
cursed for a mistake or moment of pride and arrogance.
• According to the Greek legend Medusa was the beautiful
daughter of the Greek Gods Phorkys and Keto, who were the
children of Gaia (Earth) and Okeanos (Ocean). She was one of
three sisters known as the Gorgons. The other two sisters
were Sthenno and Euryale. Medusa was the only mortal out
of the three. She was once very beautiful and lived far in the
north were the sun didn't visit. Being very curious, she
wanted to see the sun, and asked the Goddess Athena for
permission to visit the south. The Goddess Athena refused to
allow her to visit. Medusa grew angry and dared to say that
Athena hadn't given her permission because she was jealous
of her beauty. Athena, a Goddess known for her violent
temper and thirst for vengeance, was angered and
punished Medusa by turning her hair into snakes and cursing
her by making her so ugly that who ever looked into her eyes
would turn into stone. Cursed and terrifying to behold,
Medusa hid herself away where her anger and bitterness
turned her into a fearsome monster.
• Later, the hero Perseus fought
Medusa and killed her by
only looking at her in a mirror
on the back of his shield. This
allowed him to get close
enough to cut off her head
which he used to defeat the
Kraken, a huge monster
created by the gods to guard
the prison of the fallen gods
whom Zeus and his brothers
defeated to claim the throne
of Olympus.
Medusa by Carol Ann Duffy
The Poem
• Now read the poem a couple of times.
• Remember that Carol Ann Duffy often uses
dramatic monologue to give us another side
to a traditional story.
Activity 2 - Analysis
- The next step in getting to know this poem is to start
annotating and analysing it.
- To make things easier we will divide the poem up.
Each pair will have a different section of the poem to
focus on. Annotate and take notes on what is
happening in your section.
- Use your technique list to help you.
- Once this is completed, each group will present to
the class their annotations and their answers so that
everyone gets an understanding of the poem as a
whole.
MEDUSA
A suspicion, a doubt, a jealousy
grew in my mind,
which turned the hairs on my
head to filthy snakes
as though my thoughts
hissed and spat on my scalp.
My bride’s breath soured, stank
in the grey bags of my lungs.
I’m foul mouthed now, foul tongued,
yellow fanged.
There are bullet tears in my eyes.
Are you terrified?
Be terrified.
It’s you I love,
perfect man, Greek God, my own;
but I know you’ll go, betray me, stray
from home.
So better for me if you were stone.
I glanced at a buzzing bee,
a dull grey pebble fell
to the ground.
I glanced at a singing bird,
a handful of dusty gravel
spattered down
I looked at a ginger cat,
a housebrick
shattered a bowl of milk.
I looked at a snuffling pig,
a boulder rolled
in a heap of shit.
I stared in the mirror.
Love gone bad
showed me a Gorgon.
I stared at a dragon.
Fire spewed
from the mouth of a mountain.
And here you come
with a shield for a heart
and a sword for a tongue
and your girls, your girls.
Wasn’t I beautiful
Wasn’t I fragrant and young?
Look at me now.
Questions to ask about a poem?
Why do you think Duffy chose to write a dramatic
monologue from Medusa’s point of view?
What is the speakers attitude to the ideas in the poem?
What’s the mood and atmosphere of the poem? What
creates this?
Can you identify words that use the senses? Which
senses does the poem focus on?
What are the last few lines about?
What do you think the poem as a whole is about?
What is the speakers attitude to the ideas in the poem?
What’s the mood and atmosphere of the poem? What
creates this?
Why do you think Duffy chose to write a dramatic
monologue from Medusa’s point of view?
“A suspicion, a doubt, a jealousy”
snakes
Duffy’s Medusa
The reason Duffy has chosen to breathe new
life into Medusa is that this is a character quite
simply packed full of fascinating imagery and
symbolism. She is woman, after all, who has
been persecuted by both men and women and
has ultimately been cursed for a combination of
her youthful beauty and pride. It is for this
reason that Medusa makes such a good
metaphor for aging, the bitterness of betrayal
and the fleeting nature of youth and beauty. If
there is one theme or idea that runs through
the character of Medusa it has to be loneliness.
This poor woman has been forced to live apart
from human society for almost the entire span
of her life. Her curse did far more than make
her ugly, it made her a monster to be feared by
all humans. We have to ask ourselves, should
we pity Medusa? What is more monstrous,
Medusa or the curse?
“my bride’s breath soured, stank”
• Possessive
“Bullet tears in my eyes”
dragon.
Fire spewed
from the mouth of a mountain.
• What’s the mood and atmosphere? What
creates this?
• Can you identify words that use the senses?
Which senses does the poem focus on?
Possible Questions
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12. Choose a poem which features a complex character.
Show how the complexity of the character is presented and discuss how significant this
aspect of characterisation is to the impact of the poem.
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13. Choose a poem in which aspects of structure (such as verse form, rhyme, metre,
repetition, climax, contrast, narrative development …) play a significant role.
Show how the poet uses at least two structural features to enhance your appreciation of the
poem as a whole.
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13. Choose a poem which seems to you to be critical of a person or a point of view.
Discuss how effectively this criticism is presented by the poet.
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16. Choose a poem in which the tone is sinister or seductive or cynical.
Show how the poem creates this tone and discuss its relative importance in your
appreciation of the poem.
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13. Choose a poem in which the central concern(s) is/are clarified for you in the closing lines.
Show how these closing lines provide an effective clarification of the central concern(s) of
the poem.
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14. Choose a poem in which there is an element of ambiguity.
Show how the poet’s use of ambiguity enriches your appreciation of the poem as a whole.
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15. Choose a poem in which the creation of mood or atmosphere is an important
feature.
Show how the poet creates the mood or atmosphere, and discuss its importance
in your appreciation of the poem as a whole.
12. Choose a poem in which the poet explores one of the following emotions:
anguish, dissatisfaction, regret, loss.
Show how the poet explores the emotion and discuss to what extent he or she is
successful in deepening your understanding of it.
14. Choose a poem in which contrast is important in developing theme.
Explore the poet’s use of contrast and show why it is important in developing a key
theme of the poem.
12. Choose a poem which deals with conflict or danger or death.
Show how the poet creates an appropriate mood for the subject matter and go on
to discuss how effectively she/he uses this mood to enhance your understanding
of the central idea of the poem.
15. Choose a poem in which the speaker’s personality is gradually revealed.
Show how, through the content and language of the poem, aspects of the
character gradually emerge.
12. Choose a poem in which there is a sinister atmosphere or person or place.
Show how the poet evokes this sinister quality and discuss how it adds to your
appreciation of the poem.
14. Choose a poem in which there is effective use of one or more of the following:
verse form, rhythm, rhyme, repetition, sound.
Show how the poet effectively uses the feature(s) to enhance your appreciation of
the poem as a whole.
12. Choose a poem in which the poet explores one of the
following emotions: anguish, dissatisfaction, regret, loss.
Show how the poet explores the emotion and discuss to what
extent he or she is successful in deepening your understanding
of it.
Throughout the poem, Duffy uses imagery to explore the anguish and dissatisfaction
experienced by Medusa. In the opening lines we are told,
“a suspicion, a doubt, a jealousy
Grew in my mind,
Which turned the hairs on my head to filthy snakes”
The imade Duffy creates here effectively portrays Medusa’s transformation and the
fact that it was her negative emotions that cause
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12. Complex character. Show how the complexity of the character is presented and
discuss how significant this aspect of characterisation is to the impact of the poem.
13. Structural features; repetition, climax, contrast and narrative development play
a significant role. Show how the poet uses at least two structural features to
enhance your appreciation of the poem as a whole.
13. Critical of a person or a point of view. Discuss how effectively this criticism is
presented by the poet.
16. Tone is sinister or seductive or cynical. Show how the poem creates this tone
and discuss its relative importance in your appreciation of the poem.
13. Central concern(s) is/are clarified for you in the closing lines. Show how these
closing lines provide an effective clarification of the central concern(s) of the
poem.
14. Element of ambiguity. Show how the poet’s use of ambiguity enriches your
appreciation of the poem as a whole.
15. Creation of mood or atmosphere is an important feature. Show how the poet
creates the mood or atmosphere, and discuss its importance in your appreciation
of the poem as a whole.
12. Poet explores one of the following emotions: anguish, dissatisfaction, regret,
loss. Show how the poet explores the emotion and discuss to what extent he or
she is successful in deepening your understanding of it.
14. Contrast is important in developing theme. Explore the poet’s use of contrast
and show why it is important in developing a key theme of the poem.
12. Conflict or danger or death. Show how the poet creates an appropriate mood
for the subject matter and go on to discuss how effectively she/he uses this mood
to enhance your understanding of the central idea of the poem.
15. Speaker’s personality is gradually revealed. Show how, through the content
and language of the poem, aspects of the character gradually emerge.
12. There is a sinister atmosphere or person or place. Show how the poet evokes

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