Havisham - englishatbraes

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Havisham
By Carol Ann
Duffy
“Beloved
Sweetheart
Bastard”
“Not a day since then / I haven’t wished
him dead. Prayed
for it / so hard I’ve
dark green
pebbles for
eyes, / ropes on
the back of my hands I
could strangle with.
•‘Not a day since then’
‘then’ refers to her wedding day, when her
fiance left her at her alter.
• ‘…I’ve dark green pebbles for eyes ‘
Eyes are commonly called the ‘windows
to the soul’ and Havisham’s eyes have
become hard, like pebbles, suggesting
that her soul has also hardened with
anger and hatred. Green is also the
colour of envy, suggesting that she is
envious of her ex-lover’s life (probably
he is happy and contented while she is
left to wallow in bitterness and hatred).
• ‘ropes on the back of my hands I
could strangle with’
Havisham has ‘prayed so hard’ with her
hands clasped together that they have
become hardened, and the sinews and
veins now look like ropes. She has
murderous thoughts of strangling her
ex-lover with the ‘ropes’ on her hands.
Beloved sweetheart bastard. Not a day since then
I haven’t wished him dead. Prayed for it
So hard I’ve dark green pebbles for eyes,
Ropes on the back of my hands I could strangle with.
Alliteration of the
blosive ‘b’
oxymoron
Note the lack of exclamation mark –
she is serious and seemingly no longer
angry?
Beloved sweetheart bastard. Not a day since then
Dark
imagery
enjambement
I haven’t wished him dead. Prayed for it
Religious imagery
So hard I’ve dark green pebbles for eyes,
Metaphor represents her
jealousy
Ropes on the back of my hands I could strangle with.
Metaphor represents her aging,
as well as the years spent
‘wringing her hands’ with
emotion / anger / nerves
Use of the model verb
This opening stanza is both moving and
disturbing. The opening line, ‘Beloved
sweetheart bastard’ is surprising. It
indicates both the strength of her love and
her pain but also the strength of her hatred.
We see how this man’s actions have affected
her emotionally: she is simply engulfed in
pain to the point where she has nothing left
to live for but her hatred of him and her
wish for him to die.
Spinster. I stink and remember. Whole days
in bed cawing Noooooo at the wall; the dress
yellowing, trembling if I open the wardrobe,
the slewed mirror, full-length, her, myself, who did this
‘SPINSTER.
I stink and
remember.’
‘Spinster’ is the term used for an unmarried
woman. This was because, a long time ago,
women who were unmarried tended to
make their living by spinning and weaving
material, hence the name ‘spinster.’ However,
it is a term which as very
connotations.
Compare the word
‘spinster’, and what it
makes you imagine, to
the word ‘bachelor,’
which is the word for
an unmarried man.
‘Bachelor’ is much
more
positive.
negative
‘Spinster’ is a word which therefore has negative
connotations. The SIBILANT sound of ‘s’ in it, and the
fact that Duffy has positioned it in a sentence of its own,
makes it sound as if Havisham is spitting the
word out in hatred and tells us that she hates her status as
an unmarried woman.
The sibilant sound is carried on in, ‘I stink and remember,’
which evokes feelings of both disgust and pity in the reader:
Havisham is so swept up in hatred and bitterness that
everything normal about her life has disappeared. She sits
alone in her wedding dress, unwashed, dwelling on the past
and what could have been. We are disgusted by her disregard
for hygiene but pity her pain and misery.
One word sentence
stands out
Observation of what she is now
(literally) – and a suggestion of what
was wrong (metaphorically) with her
to be dumped?
Spinster. I stink and remember. Whole days
The cry of a
crow creates
gothic imagery
in bed cawing Noooooo at the wall; the dress
Neologism created to represent
the pain (no word previously
created to express)
Double meaning – the dress
trembles (personification), as if
Highlights
waiting to be put back away / she
yellowing, trembling if I open the wardrobe,
time passed
trembles (literally) when looking at
the clothes of her past
the slewed mirror, full-length, her, myself, who did this
Double meaning – past tense of ‘slay’
suggesting she has smashed the mirror in
anger / also means drunk, suggesting she is
unable to see her true reflection through the
blur of alcohol
Use of feminist reference to that of
Julia Kristeva – she is unable to
identify herself – ‘he’ made her an
‘object’ and she now fights to regain
the ‘symbolic’ (myself)
‘…Whole days / in bed
cawing Noooo at the
wall; the dress /
yellowing, trembling if
I open the wardrobe;
the slewed mirror, full
her
myself…’
–length,
This stanza is the part of the poem where we most feel
pity for Havisham, as she describes the terrible effect
that her experience has had on her. The fact that she spends
‘whole days’ in bed tells us the extent of her depression.
The word choice of ‘cawing’ gives an animalistic image of
her, as though the experience has reduced her to being
less than human; indeed she can barely speak anymore.
The ‘dress yellowing’ reminds us of how much time has
passed and she is ‘trembling’ at opening the wardrobe, afraid
of facing who she has become in the mirror, and who
she once was by looking at her old clothes; she is caught in
limbo, unable to go back and unable to move on.
‘...her myself’ tells us that she can barely recognise herself
anymore because the experience has altered her so much.
‘…who did
this
to
me?’
‘….to me? Puce curses that are
sounds
not words,
Some nights better, the lost body over me,
my
fluent
tongue in its
mouth in its ear
,
‘… then down till I
suddenly bite
awake.’
End of rhetorical
question
Colour of deep red to purple- Suggests she no longer can access language to
brown suggests old blood which express her feelings – a feminist analysis explored
by Caryl Churchill in The Skriker, where pain is so
represents old wounds
deep there is no language available to describe it
to me? Puce curses that are sounds not words,
Conversational
tone
The dream Some nights better, the lost body over me,
continues
and the love
making is
my fluent tongue in his mouth in its ear
easy and
poetic – she
sees ‘him’
then down till I suddenly bite awake. Love’s
Lost to her / also creates sexual
imagery of body in her dreams
She tries to make him
the ‘object’
The act of biting is ‘sudden’ in the dream and the suddenness
wakes her. Is she imagining herself attacking him? The hard
consonants, ‘t’ and ‘k’ emphasise the sudden, harshness of this
action. It contrasts with the soft, poetic love described before,
and ties with the paradoxical idea that she both loves and hates
simultaneously (think of the opening line).
‘
Love’s / hate behind a white
veil; a red balloon
bursting / in my face.
Bang.
I
stabbed
at a
wedding cake
male
corpse for
Give me a
a
long slow
honeymoon
Don’t think it’s only the
heart that b-b-b-breaks.
hate behind a white veil; a red balloon bursting
in my face. Bang. I stabbed at a wedding-cake,
Give me a male corpse for a long slow honeymoon.
Don’t think it’s only the heart that b-b-b-breaks.
Love’s hate oxymoron
Triple meaning – ‘white’ suggests innocence,
‘white veil’ represents the wedding, ‘veil’
represents in feminist terms that she is
concealing something
hate behind a white veil; a red balloon bursting
Short
sentence for
effect – also
in my face. Bang. I stabbed at a wedding-cake,
represents
the shock she
experienced
‘red’ suggests anger, ‘red
balloon bursting’ – just as her
hopes and dreams ‘burst’;
also, it represents her blush of
embarrassment, concealed
behind the ‘white veil’
‘Stabbed’ creates violent imagery /
‘stabbed at a wedding-cake’ shows
anger literally and metaphorically
Give me a male corpse for a long slow honeymoon.
Don’t think it’s only the heart that b-b-b-breaks.
Use of ‘b’ in a stuttering style,
suggests the is breaking down
again / she suggests that her life,
her mind, has broken as a result –
not just her heart. Her speech is
also broken – she cannot
articulate her feelings
Use of dark imagery,
reference to death links to
idea that the ‘honeymoon’
would provide the long
painful death she wants.
She imagines torturing her
ex-finance, and, indeed,
men in general
Oxymoron
Metaphor
Reference to
age, but not
having lived
Onomatopoeia
Bird imagery
Havisham
Beloved sweetheart bastard. Not a day since then
I haven't wished him dead. Prayed for it
so hard I've dark green pebbles for eyes,
ropes on the back of my hands I could strangle with.
Expressing her
violent
emotions
Her Victorian label, suggesting she will never marry
Spinster. I stink and remember. Whole days
in bed cawing Nooooo at the wall; the dress
yellowing, trembling if I open the wardrobe;
the slewed mirror, full-length, her, myself, who did this
Red is a passionate colour
to me? Puce curses that are sounds not words.
The reflection Some nights better, the lost body over me,
shows a
my fluent tongue in its mouth in its ear
devastated state
then down till suddenly bite awake. Love's
Reference to the
wedding dress and to
her own sense of decay
Enjambment links
stanzas 2/3 3/4
So emotional she emits only
sound
Sexual fantasy
hate behind a white veil; a red balloon bursting
in my face. Bang. I stabbed at a wedding cake.
Give me a male corpse for a long slow honeymoon.
Don't think it's only the heart that b-b-b-breaks.
Oxymoron
Violent &
disturbing
images
Her language echoes her pain
Why the enjambment?
Summarise what you now know about the
poem:
•
•
•
•
•
What is it about? (Content)
What themes are covered?
What tone does the poem have?
What literary devices have been used?
How effective is the poem for the reader?
Summarise what you now know about the
poem:
• What is it about? A woman telling the tale of being
stood up on her wedding day
• What themes are covered? Anger, revenge, hatred,
death
• What tone does the poem have? Angry, aggressive,
bitter
• What literary devices have been used?
Enjambement, metaphor, simile, oxymoron, dark
imagery
• How effective is the poem for the reader?

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