The theme I’ve chosen to consider is how Carol Ann Duffy adopts different personas and displays the character effectively through language, style and content. I’ve chosen the three poems ‘Standing Female Nude’ Comprehensive’ and ‘The Dolphins’. I’ve chosen these poems because they all have entirely different characters, shown effectively by Carol Ann Duffy. To begin with, the poem “Standing Female Nude” is from the perspective of a French prostitute being drawn by an artist. The prostitute clearly has no interest in the art, only with earning money – “He is concerned with volume, space, I with the next meal”. The prostitute very bluntly, not interested in the artist or where the picture will be displayed, not seeing what is so spectacular about the picture of the “river-whore” – “They call it Art”.
Carol Ann Duffy adopts the persona of this prostitute very well, beginning with her use of style. The poem is divided into four seven-line stanzas. There is no rhyming pattern; this allows Carol Ann Duffy to elaborate and focus on the language. The lack of rhyme could also reflect the prostitutes’ down-to-earth, blunt character, ignoring the fancy rhymes and riddles and getting straight to the point. There is enjamberment in the poem, perhaps reflecting the prostitute’s careless personality. There are also several caesurae’s throughout the poem, perhaps showing these are the prostitute’s thoughts – the way she is thinking back and forth so abruptly. This gives users better insight into the prostitute’s character, making Carol Ann Duffy’s persona more direct and realistic. The language used in the poem is also a perfect reflection of the prostitute’s characteristics. “Belly nipple arse in the window light” “they call it Art” “…magnificent, she murmurs, moving on. It makes me laugh.”
The prostitute mocks the upper class that see so much in a picture of a prostitute, which in reality, she is simply standing naked in front of an artist to get some money for her next meal. The poem’s content is made very coarse and realistic by Carol Ann Duffy’s effective use of the persona. I found her perspective of character very effective and unique, as not many people about what is exactly behind the walls of portrayal art. By considering the actual life of the art viewed and praised by even the “Queen of England”, Carol Ann Duffy has chosen the ideal persona to adopt to create the ultimate effect on the reader. The second poem I’ve chosen to convey the theme of ‘persona’ is “Comprehensive”. I found this poem ideal for supporting my chosen theme because throughout Comprehensive, several characters are present; all personas are displayed effectively through style, language, and content.
Comprehensive is a poem including seven different teenage characters, three British teens and four foreign who immigrated to Britain. All of whom are talking about life, culture, their histories or hobbies. With Carol Ann Duffy giving the British teenagers a stereotypical, dull and colourless impression, the foreigners seem to have more depth to their character, ambition, and respect for culture. “Some of my family are named Moghul emperors…I have hope and ambition” “It’s boring…probably work in Safeways worst luck…Michelle. It’s just boring” The title potentially has a double meaning, Comprehensive implying a school or a comprehensive view on culture. Carol Ann Duffy’s use of style is particularly effective in this poem while adopting several different personas. The style of the poem is divided into seven stanza’s, all separated, contrasting with the title Comprehensive. Every stanza represents a different character, all with different lengths and language, contrasting every character. Even more so between the foreign and British, one British teen placed deliberately between every foreign teen’s stanza.
Carol Ann Duffy’s use of language in the poem also shows her versatility while adopting different personas. Using the first two teenagers in the poem as examples, the contrast between both characters is clear. An unnamed African teen uses long and extensive sentences, lacking time and use of tenses. “When my sister she could only speak English.” “We talk a lot about the things we used to do in Africa, and then we are happy.” What he/she is saying is quite vague and unclear, displaying his/her lack of experience in the English language. The second character named Wayne, uses short, blunt sentences, showing his lack of intelligence. “I don’t suppose I’ll get a job. It’s all them coming over here to work. Arsenal.” “Paki-bashing and pulling girls knickers down.”
Although Wayne is originally British, his lack of vocabulary and short sentences imply he isn’t fluent in English. Here Carol Ann Duffy sets an ironic and humorous twist through language and structure by making the British teen just as inexperienced in speaking English as the African teen. But, of course, Wayne speaks this way due to sheer stupidity and laziness, whereas the African teenager speaks this way because it isn’t his/her first language. The British teen’s talk of offensive hobbies, bleak future careers – “Safeways”, etc…, with no mention of culture, positive past experiences or family memories. I believe Carol Ann Duffy is making an agreeable point in this poem as the pattern continues between cultures; that although immigrants are heavily criticized and labelled, their beliefs, passion for culture and ambition on the whole is far stronger than ours in comparison. Tying these points with my chosen theme, Carol Ann Duffy’s effective adoption of personas is the prime reason for her subtly pronounced points and opinions to come across in the poem. The final poem I’ve chosen to discuss to tie in with the theme is ‘The Dolphins’.