Question: Analyze how language features were used to help you connect with the text.
The poem Valentine written by Carol Duffy uses numerous language features to showcase the journey of love. Duffy skillfully uses these language features to connect the reader to the text by exploring the main idea that love doesn’t always follow the gloried path portrayed in media. Duffy was asked to write Valentine for Valentine’s Day. As a skilled writer, Duffy uses fairly simple language that is intricately welded together to create complex and insightful meaning.
The author expresses her purpose of showing how love doesn’t follow the glorified path displayed in media through the extended metaphor of love being an onion. Through the poem Duffy deliberately uses an onion to represent love. Just like how an onion holds many layers, love has many different layers both negative and positive. In traditional literature and in current media, love is displayed to follow a fairytale story line in the sense that once we find love all of our problems will be supposedly solved. Through the extended metaphor of an onion Duffy helps the reader connect with the multidimensionality of love and the challenges of love that are often not talked about. We explore this idea when Duffy states “Here, it will blind you with tears like a lover.” Through this quote Duffy refers to the fact that onions have the ability to make us cry and cloud our vision. In a parallel nature love also has the ability to cloud our visions especially during the initial ‘honeymoon’ stage of a relationship we often turn a blind eye to the flaws of our partners and instead cling onto the glorified image of them we have built in our head. This is further explored when Duffy describes how love blind us as she states “it will make your reflection a wobbling photo.” The wobbling photo refers to the fact that our vision is blurry, taken in the context of a relationship, the vision we hold of our partner would be an unreliable representation of how they actually are and the flaws that we are turning a blind eye to. By drawing on the parallelity of love and an onion Duffy helps the reader connect with the text and the glorification of love. The use of the imperative here in the quote “here, it will blind you with tears like a lover” shows that we don’t necessarily ask for love to cloud our perception instead it is pointed out as a landmark in the journey of love. When we prepare an onion we don’t think about the fact that it will burn our eyes, it is something that we realize along the way. Our commitments to the dish means that despite the temporary pain, we continue out and complete what we were making. In a similar way when we engage in a relationship we usually aren’t consciously aware that we hold a clouded perception, it is instead something that we realize along the way. As we become more committed to the relationship we come to realize that we hold a glorified image of our partner. However our commitment to our relationship means that despite the shock and pain caused by glorifying our partner we continue on.
Modern day media often display love to be a product bought for show. This creates an unrealistic standard in society creating the perception that love should come without problems. As teens that standard has a significant impression of our idea of love. Our teenage years are often the first time we experience love and get into a relationship. The idea that love should come without problem puts a lot of pressure on teenage love and the fact that it should be perfect as seen in the media. As a result where problems arise in a relationship it is seen as the beginning of a slippery slope instead of an evolution of love and growth. Through the language features unpacked the readers gain a greater connection to the text and we come to understand the complexities of love which challenges the glorified image of a relationship that is portrayed in the media.
Language features are further used to intensify the reader’s connection to the text by exploring where the glorification of love is rooted from. This is first seen through the example “Not a cute card, or a kissogram.” Duffy’s mention of cute cards or kissogram refer to the traditional commercialized ways of expressing love. As the reader we are probably fairly familiar with the overwhelming presence of red roses and cute cards on Valentines Day. In response to the superficial standard of love Duffy gives her lover an onion. We see this when she states “ I give you an onion. A moon wrapped in brown paper” As the reader we have been conditioned by the commercializing of love so we may be inclined to view the onion as a thoughtless gift. Through the use of language features however Duffy manipulates the way the reader views the onion and we see how it can hold meaning more intricate than a cute card or kissogram. The author uses a metaphor to describe an onion like a moon. The moon is commonly used in romantic poetry and is described to promise light similar to that of love. In a similar way that the moon moves in phases slowly revealing itself, an onion has layers which are unpacked with time and care. These two ideas can be used to describe the nature of love as it takes time and care for the different aspects of a person to be revealed. The nature of love can be seen as parallel to an onion in its method of growing as well. An onion starts off as a small dormant bulb but with time and care grows into a staple vegetable. In a similar way love starts off with a small interaction or a simple friendship but with time and care can blossom into something beautiful like a relationship. By further drawing upon the parallel nature of an onion and the nature of love it helps the reader connect to the text and further unpack the glorification of love. As the reader we can gain a new perspective on low value items such as an onion which we would have initially viewed as a thoughtless gift due to the standard of love portrayed in the media which glorifies commercial items such as red roses or cute cards. As teens especially, we are strongly influenced by our environment so the standard of love portrayed in the commercial world is often what we view as a benchmark and a fundamental aspect of love. As red roses and cute cards have become the front face of Valentine’s Day we have come to believe that these are the only meaningful ways of expressing love. Through the use of language features Duffy has helped the reader connect with her purpose by showing that love can be expressed in other ways and that items that are not in the commercial light can hold a lot of significance when expressing gratitude for your lover.
Duffy continues to strengthen the reader’s connection to the glorification of love by exploring the idea of marriage. We see this when Duffy states “It’s platinum rings shrink to loops.” Duffy’s references rings of an onion act and an extended metaphor for how love can evolve in platinum loops which symbolize wedding rings. The phrase “if you like” adds a subjective element. In society the traditional pathway of love strongly values marriage as it is more binding. Unhappy marriages do exist so it is important to remember that just because marriages appear more binding on paper doesn’t mean that reality follows the same path. This idea is further intensified through the quote “Its lethal scent will cling to your fingers.”
The use of the word lethal and cling are negatively connected and they cause a sense of unease in the reader. The verb cling creates the idea that marriages can be confining. In third world countries young girls are often married off in child marriages. This has become the norm in these societies, sometimes the girls don’t even meet her husbands till the wedding day. The young girl often feels trapped and unhappy in the marriage but they can’t leave because they don’t have the skills or maybe education to financially support themself. The confining nature of these marriages is similar to the scent on the onion which clings onto your fingers, unable to leave you. Western media often present marriage as a grand event that captivates everyone’s attention. The preparation behind a wedding often consists of organizing material items like food, flower dresses etc. The idea of meaningful moments gets associated with having an abundance of items and taken away from the intimacy of small moments where nothing else but a strong emotional connection exists. It creates the expectation that to make a moment memorable a grand set up is required. The use of language features helps connect the reader to the text and the glorification of love by prompting the reader to question the relevance of marriage and what is required in a relationship.By presenting marriage as a choice rather than a requirement, Duffy has a modern take on the evolution of love and marriage. By doing so Duffy breaks standard barriers and encourages the reader to move away from the glorified path of love shown in media and experience our unique evolution of love.
In the poem Valentine by Carol Ann Duffy a variety of language features are used to unpack the extended metaphor of an onion symbolizing love. This idea is powerful on the reader because it connects the reader to the text and understands the writer’s main message that love doesn’t always follow the glorified path portrayed in the media. The exploration of traditional progression of love and commercials standard expression of love are used to intensify the writer’s purpose and provide the reader with a fresh perspective on love and relationship