Can I please get some feedback on my Carol Ann Duffy essay?

8. Analyse how language features contributed to the success of the text.

In her collection, The World’s Wives, Carol Ann Duffy utilises language features to centre the experiences of women which had previously been hidden from society. In her poems, Mrs Midas and Eurydice, Duffy proves the empowerment of these women over their own lives, suggesting that women are just as valuable to society as men.

Mrs Midas’ life was changed forever when King Midas made the decision to wish that everything he touched would turn to gold. This put Mrs Midas in a very difficult position because she could no longer live the life she dreamed of, but instead was living in fear that her husband would turn her to gold. Mrs Midas used to live a life full of contentment where she was happy. Duffy shows this through the use of enjambment where “The kitchen filled with the smell of itself, relaxed, its steamy breath, gently blanching the windows.” This use of enjambment creates a comforting and peaceful setting for the poem, it makes the kitchen sound inviting and a place you would like to visit. Therefore, this successfully sets up everything Mrs Midas had to lose. Duffy also utilises personal pronouns to prove the damage to the women in his life King Midas has done. Mrs Midas has to take action because she can no longer live in her home due to the fear that is encapsulating her. So, “I drove him up” to their isolated caravan in the forest where he could not make her part of “the tomb of Tutankhamun”. This allusion successfully proves the impact of King Midas’ decision as it proves that Mrs Midas is now trapped in her life with her husband where she no longer feels as though she can live the life she dreamed of. Additionally, it also proves the idea that if King Midas had touched her, she would be stuck like a golden statue in his tomb never to be seen again. Therefore, this successfully proves Duffy’s purpose that Mrs Midas feels trapped in her life and powerless because of her husband’s actions.

Orpheus had caused Eurydice to live a life full of so much sadness that even when she died and had the chance to be brought back to life by him, she didn’t want to go. This is because Orpheus was controlling over Eurydice and only appreciated her for being his inspiration rather than for being his wife. Duffy proves the pain Eurydice feels in her life using listing, “I’d rather speak for myself than be Dearest, Beloved, Dark Lady, White Goddess, etc., etc.” This listing proves the idea that although Orpheus loves Eurydice for being the inspiration for his “images, metaphors, similes…villanelles, histories, myth” he doesn’t appreciate her as an actual person and for everything she does for him. Therefore, this use of listing successfully proves Duffy’s idea to centre the experiences and feelings of women who have been hidden from society as this proves that although women were being valued for what they did for society, they weren’t valued for the actual people they were like men. Duffy further utilises language features to centre women’s experiences through the use of idioms, “It suited me down to the ground.” This idiom proves that although Eurydice was already in the underworld and couldn’t go any further down, she would much rather be her own person in the underworld than “Eurydice, Orpheus’ wife” in the real world. Therefore, this successfully proves Duffy’s purpose because it centres women’s experiences and proves that women have feelings too and should be allowed to make their own actions because they are just as important as men.

In both Eurydice and Mrs Midas, Duffy is trying to centre the experiences of women, however, she does it in different ways in both texts through the use of tone. In Eurydice, Duffy is trying to convey a humorous and sarcastic tone to the poem. She does this through the use of direct address, “Girls, I was dead and down.”. This creates a funny tone to the poem as it makes the reader feel as though they are sitting down with their friends for a gossip session and this contrasts with what is happening in the Greek myth, that Eurydice is going down to the underworld where she will stay forever because she doesn’t want to be trapped as Orpheus’ muse in the real world. In comparison, in Mrs Midas, the tone is more complex, it goes through multiple phases from content to frightened to angry and then to longing. Duffy shows this by utilising enjambment. “the dark of the ground seemed to drink the light of the sky / but that twig in his hand was gold.” This use of enjambment creates a nostalgic and peaceful tone proving Mrs Midas is happy with the life she is living. Then as she becomes frightened and angry, Duffy uses short sentences to create a bitter tone in the poem, “That was the last straw.” This proves that Mrs Midas is annoyed that King Midas has made this decision which has directly impacted her without asking her opinion or even considering her in the slightest. Then as the poem goes to a tone where Mrs Midas is longing for what she once had, Duffy utilises enjambment again, “his hands, his warm hands on my skin, his touch.” This proves that although King Midas made this unthoughtful decision, there are still parts of him that Mrs Midas loves and wishes she could still have. This shows that Duffy has successfully used language features to centre the experiences of both Mrs Midas and Eurydice and prove the empowerment of women. This suggests the idea that within society, we should work to empower women because they have unique and valuable ideas that men do not and will help society to become the best place it can be.

Therefore, both Mrs Midas and Eurydice were hidden and trapped by the men in their lives. They stopped them from achieving their full potential and led these women to feel truly happy. Therefore, language features successfully prove Duffy’s purpose which is to centre women’s experiences to prove that women should be valued just as much as men because we were all created equal. Both Mrs Midas and Eurydice are successful texts because Duffy utilises language features to provoke thought in the reader and prove that although within society typically men have been given higher status, women should be of equal value to men because it is only in truly acknowledging women that society will reach its full potential.

Kia ora Sealbanana101!

Great choice of question for poetry and great texts. I love this anthology! You’ve got a good understanding of the poems, and I really like how you’ve structured your paragraphs, talking about each text separately and then together in your final paragraph.

You will need to establish in your introduction what you think makes the text successful. For example, the anthology is successful because it develops the idea that women are just as valuable to society as men. You’ve linked back to the idea of success in your body paragraphs and your conclusion, but, because it isn’t set up nicely in the introduction, there’s not a cohesive argument for what makes the texts successful in general.

In your body paragraphs, you’ve identified the technique and effect but don’t always explain how the technique created that effect. For example, how does the use of enjambment create a “comforting and peaceful setting”? Or when she lists all of the names in Eurydice, you could unpack how these are nicknames which can be part of stripping away identity. Keep asking yourself, how does this technique create that effect?

One other way you could develop this essay is to bring in a discussion of how these poems give a new perspective, a new voice, to these stories that traditionally painted men in a heroic light, exploring the original myths and what makes these poems successful in reimagining the myths to 21st century readers.