Medusa File - the Redhill Academy

Read the poem…
Stanza One
Dramatic Monologue
The suspicion appears to be
about an unfaithful lover –
Duffy has recreated the myth
by giving psychological
reasons for her physical
Based on the
Greek Myth
A suspicion, a doubt, a jealousy
grew in my mind,
which turned the hairs on my head to filthy
as though my thoughts
hissed and spat on my scalp.
This poem
could be read
from the
perspective of
any scorned
woman =
and alliteration
Medusa was a priestess for
Athena who was seduced by
Poseidon. Athena was so angry
that she turned her into a
Gorgon so that if she looked at a
man she would turn them to
Stanza Two
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?
Plosive alliteration
Stanza Three
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 by for me if you were stone.
She wants him to be
stone so he physically
can’t leave – possessive
She loves him, yet is terrified he
will leave her
Stanza Four
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
The speaker is demonstrating her powers
Stanza Five
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.
Why do you think she
uses the swear word
‘shit’ instead of the
more polite ‘poo’?
The speaker is demonstrating her powers
Stanza Six
The speaker’s power has
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.
In the last three stanzas the verbs have become stronger – glanced –
looked – stared, why do you think this is?
In the last three stanzas, note the halfrhyme – what does it suggest?
Stanza Seven
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?
This stanza addresses
Perseus directly (from the
myth). He is prepared to
fight her and is protected
In the last two lines of this stanza,
Medusa’s sadness seems to be the
same as most women’s – fading
beauty and looks
Stanza Eight
Simple and direct
language is used
throughout the
Look at me now.
This is ambiguous – if we do look at her we’ll
be turned to stone however, we are almost
tricked into looking at her through sympathy
In the poem
• Myth and modern age are mixed
• The poem has a timeless quality – beauty is
still a concern nowadays
• Her suspicions and jealousy have turned her
physically ugly
• Her ability to love has destroyed her through
the male’s betrayal
• The poem shows psychological depth, the
inability to love through fear of abandonment

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