Medusa – Carol Ann Duffy

Carol Ann Duffy uses the poem Medusa to represent a relationship where the two partners grow apart over time. Duffy introduces the problem as a “suspicion, a doubt, jealousy”, the use of the three words to describe the same emotion can represent the uncertainty she felt about how she was feeling. These thoughts “turned the hairs on” her “head to filthy snakes”, demonstrating how the thoughts were pestering and frightening in her mind. Duffy uses the description of the snakes as “filthy” to represent how initially, the thoughts were dirty and dismissed by her and provides a contrast of what is to come in the poem. Duffy described the bride’s breath as “soured” to represent how on a monumental day such as the wedding day, she did not believe the words she was saying. The word “soured” also has the connotation of being spoiled or out of date which could be a symbol of how their relationship was expiring. As the stanza continues, she is described as a “foul-mouthed”, “foul tongued” and “yellow fanged creature” with, in context to the title of the poem, is in line with the transformation into the villain Medusa. Duffy may use this as an analogy to show the monster-like person she felt she was becoming with her partner, foreshadowing their ultimate separation. In the fourth stanza, the depiction of Medusa’s happiness continues as Duffy contrasts descriptions of positive connations with negative ones, to demonstrate how she was unable to see the beauty in the world around her in this relationship. Duffy uses the alliteration of “buzzing bee” to draw attention to the line when she contrasts with “a dull grey pebble”. Duffys’ use contrast could represent how she was unable to see the simple pleasures in life such as a “buzzing bee” or a “singing bird” as she was being weighed down by this relationship. The turning point of the poem is represented by Duffy’s use of enjambment using the description “love gone bad”. The use of enjambment disrupts the flow of the poem which could be used to represent how her realisation her relationship disrupted and removed the structure from her life. In starring “in the mirror”, Medusa comes to the realisation that she has turned into a gorgon with “fire spew[ing]” from the mouth of the mountain”. The figurative sense of “fire” is the hate and pain she felt from this realisation and “spewing” provides the image that it erupted all at once.

What exactly is the book saying about the tension between reality and imagination?

Pedro Camacho’s character development is used to represent the tension between reality and imagination in the book. At the beginning of the book, Pedro Camacho is presented as a character resting in his imagination but forced to live through reality which then develops into a character at the end forced into reality, completely stripped of his imagination. In a way, Mario the Author uses Pedro Camacho to show his own development as a person throughout the book. In the beginning, Mario is rather unrealistic, juggling his relationship with his Aunt, his job and his university seeing an imaginative future where that all occurred simultaneously. We see Mario move from an immature 18-year-old who is in love with literature and pursuing a perhaps idealistic life, and as the book progresses, namely toward the end, we see a realistic Mario, married to a woman his age with a different career. In some ways, this is a less exaggerated mimic of Pedro’s character development as a contrast to Mario’s character. Llosa (the author) uses Pedro to portray Mario’s inner imagination and feelings with the sentiment of being trapped and lost in reality whereas Mario represents the ‘reality’ of what happened, a typical ‘boy growing into a man’ scenario.

What is a personal essay?

A personal essay is the use of someone’s various personal experiences to allude and argue a bigger picture and idea. The use one theme and pick experiences throughout their life to show something. This is different from a memoir as the latter focuses on a specific and detailed memory to describe a moment to someone else. A personal essay on the hand is an essay because it uses evidence to form an argument much like a real essay. That is not to say that a memoir is not arguing something, but they have the scope to go much more in-depth into a theme or idea whereas personal essays don’t necessarily use the same level of analysis but have the aim to change the reader’s point of view.

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