Many-of-Carol-Ann-Duffys-poems-are-about-people by sdaferv



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									Many of Carol Ann Duffy’s poems are about people. Choose three poems in which
people are described, and compare how people are made interesting in each poem.

         In this essay I am going to analyse how Duffy makes the characters seem
interesting in the poems In Mrs Tilscher’s Class, Before You Were Mine and Stealing.
The poems use interesting punctuation, metaphors, alliteration and other of uses of the
language. Duffy write her poems from personal experiences and feelings. In Mrs
Tilscher’s Class is about Duffy growing up in primary school, Before You Were Mine
is about Duffy growing up with her mother and her mother before she was born and
Stealing is about a thief that stole a friend of Duffy’s snowman when they were
         All three poems are similar in some ways. All three poems use original
language. They are all written about people she knows or experiences she has
encountered. All the poems talk about relationships. In Mrs Tilscher’s Class talks
about the relationship between Duffy and Mrs Tilscher, other children and her
parents. Before You Were Mine discusses the relationship between Duffy and her
mother even before she was born, and Stealing analyses the relationship between the
thief, the snowman and society.
         The first poem I am going to analyse is In Mrs Tilscher’s Class. This poem
talks about life in Mrs Tilscher’s class, and how Duffy relates to Mrs Tilscher and the
other children. Also the mental and physical growth of Duffy is represented in the
         Mrs Tilscher is described in the poem as someone who the children think
loves them as her own children, someone who makes the troubles of the world fade
into a distant memory. When the children get older she is not as keen to have such a
friendly relationship with the children. For example ‘Mrs Tilscher smiled, then turned
away’ when the children ask her about the facts of life.
         Mrs Tilscher is interesting as she is someone who the children look up to; she
teaches the children and shapes their future by how she acts. Mrs Tilscher sounds like
she cares very much for the children and wants them to be happy.
         Duffy uses the punctuation in the sentence ‘Mrs Tilscher loved you.’ To make
it sound like a statement. It sounds short and sharp like a fact. Normally when
someone is short and sharp they are angry and defensive. Also when the poem says
‘Mrs Tilscher smiled then turned away.’ It sounds like it actually happened, like
something a teacher would do.
         The poem is written in chronological order. It begins when the poet is slightly
immature and ends with a girl ready to start secondary school. She has matured and is
about to become a teenager. The regular stanzas in the poem separate every time the
girl matures slightly. The poem is written in the second person so the reader can
identify with the poem as it talks about you (in the second person singular) it could be
anyone’s feelings and experiences.
         The next poem I am going to analyse is Before You Were Mine this poem is
similar to In Mrs Tilscher’s Class in some ways. Both of the poems talk about people
Duffy admires. In the case of In Mrs Tilscher’s Class it is Mrs Tilscher and in the case
of Before You Were Mine it is Duffy’s mother.
         Before You Were Mine is about Carol Ann Duffy’s mother, Marilyn, before
Duffy was born and the relationship Duffy and her mother had when Duffy was
growing up.
        Duffy’s mother is described as glamorous, youthful and fashionable. Duffy’s
mother- ironically called Marilyn- is compared to Marilyn Monroe the famous movie
star. Duffy’s mother, Marilyn, is obviously a very good dancer.
        Marilyn is interesting as she is like most teenagers; she talks with her friends,
dances in clubs (although the clubs she went to are different to the clubs modern teens
go to), stays out late and follows fashion.
        Duffy uses many things to bring Marilyn to life for the readers. Metaphors
especially help bring Marilyn to life like ‘in the ballroom with the thousand eyes, the
fizzy, movie tomorrows’. This metaphor is ambiguous. It could either mean the lights
from the disco ball or the eyes of many people watching. The onomatopoeia ‘clatters’
used to describe the noise Marilyn’s heels make in Gorge Square means you can
actually imagine the noise made. Also the use of the word ‘sweetheart’ is ambiguous.
It could either mean the name a boy called her, or the neckline of her dress. The
whole poem is worded like Duffy talking to her mother but in places colloquial
language is used making the text sound even more like a conversation.
        The poem is set in four stanzas each of five lines. The structure is in partial
chronological order. The first stanza is ten years before Duffy was born and so is the
second stanza. The third stanza starts with the moment Duffy was born but is mainly
set when she was ten years old; the fourth stanza is also set when Duffy is ten years
        The third poem I am going to analyse is Stealing. There are some similarities
between the poems Before You Were Mine and Stealing; both poems try to understand
someone. Before You Were Mine tries to understand the life of Marilyn before Duffy
was born and Stealing tries to understand why the thief stole the snowman.
        The poem stealing is about a thief that stole a snowman. The thief steals the
snowman from someone’s garden and takes it home. The thief doesn’t understand
why he took the snowman but when he gets it home it does not look the same so he
kicks it down. At the end of the poem you read about the thief entering someone
else’s house.
        The thief is described as cold hearted and insensitive. We can obviously tell he
has suffered some hardships in his life by the way he says 'Life's tough'. The thief is
anti-social and aggressive.
        The thief is interesting as he lives only off what he steals. He has not got a
proper job and probably has not got the qualifications to get a proper job. The thief is
also interesting as you wonder what has happened in his life to make him so in
        The poem is written like a conversation between the reader and the thief.
Duffy’s use of alliteration using m’s (in most, midnight, magnificent, moon, mute
ect.) gives the affect of someone shivering in the cold. Duffy uses personification to
bring the snowman top life. The poem begins and ends with a question; this makes the
poem sound even more like a conversation.
        The poem is in five stanzas of five lines each. Unlike the other two poems this
poem is not in chronological order. The poem is jumbled up. The first stanza is about
the snowman, the second stanza is about the thief stealing the snowman, the third
stanza is about what else the thief steals and the thief entering someone else’s
bedroom, the fourth stanza is about the thief destroying the snowman because it did
not look the same stood in his garden, the fifth stanza is about other things the thief
has stolen and what he did with them. The unorganised stanzas make the poem sound
even more conversational.
        In conclusion, I think that Carol Ann Duffy makes the people in her poems
interesting by describing people from her own life. When the characters are described
you just believe them as if you could see them for yourself because the characters are
like people in our own lives. We can understand what Duffy is trying to get across
with her poems.


Katie Dodd

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