Are You An English Student Studying Carol Ann Duffy ?
Posted on November 6, 2012Carol Ann Duffy's 'Medusa' in The World's Wife Collection: The last stanza and line! If you are studying Carol Ann Duffy and would like to discuss her writing in a tutorial situation where you can ask as many questions as you like and improve both your understanding and confidence then contact me, Dr Janet Lewison on: 07803033676This is an example of my FREE ENGLISH BLOG featuring LOTS OF ENGLISH RESOURCES including Carol Ann Duffy. And here you comewith a shield for a heart and a sword for a tongueand your girls, your girls.Wasn’t I beautifulWasn’t I fragrant and young?Look at me now.Medusa’s final words before her infamous decapitation by Perseus communicate a pathos which emanates from the elegaic tone as much the irony of her observation. Medusa’s reflection upon the approach of Perseus with his warrior physicality and powerful sexual aura, involves several misrecognitions or displacements which highlight the imaginative torment inflicted upon her by the jealous goddess Athene. For Medusa’s belief in Perseus’s subsitutions reveal a lingering idealism which has not been destroyed by the incarceration of her ugliness, dramatically embodied in the serpents writhing about her head. Medusa still finds it possible that there can be a residue of humanity in this hellish new world she is forced to live in and to perpetuate. Hence the shield is standing in ‘for a heart’ and the sword ‘for a tongue.’ Our knowledge of Medusa’s fate of course challenges this unfortunate reading, yet Carol Ann Duffy reminds us that even Medusa was ‘beautiful’ and ‘fragrant’ and ‘young’. Does fate and often age take away such anchors? I think not. Words return to haunt us, close time capsules of emotions that just cannot go away. I do wodner at this point about the smell of Medusa. Did she ever smell otherwise? Does her self neglect anticipate that of Miss Havisham? Would it have made any difference if Miss Havisham smelt of Chanel? ! I think so! And I realised as I was walking through mud with my dogs this morning that the greatest pathos around the compelling tale of Medusa is that in turning everyone who gazes upon her to stone, she has forgotten how to dream, perhaps because she is too bitter to risk dreaming ever ever again. Thus,through Athene’s cruel punishment for her natural libido, she deprives other’s of their mutability, of their physical flexibility and mobility by fixing them into stone. They become, as a very astute student told me on Saturday without any ability to ‘rot’ and thus cannot enjoy the natural cycle of ‘invisiblity’. They remain fixed, frozen in ironic, doll like masks of themselves, not unlike( and I will write more on this) Freud’s conception of the ‘unccanny’ in his hugely influential essay of that name. The tragedy of the last line ensares the terrible paradox of Medusa’s dreamless fate. She is woman who not unnaturally desires to be gazed at, to be looked at with love, even with desire. yet who would dare to gaze upon the Medusa knowing the living death that awaits them for such a look? Hence the last line is both plea and threat. And Carol Ann Duffy is superb at finding such moments in her poetry where a character is simultaneously in several psychological and emotional places at once. ‘Look at me now.’ Many thanks, Dr Janet Lewison M.A. www.tusitala.org.uk mobile: 07803033676