6pebbles for eyes, / ropes on “Not a day since then / I haven’t wishedhim dead. Prayedfor it / so hard I’vedark greenpebbles for eyes, / ropes onthe back of my hands Icould strangle with.
7‘Not a day since then’. ‘then’ refers to her wedding day, when her ‘Not a day since then’ ‘then’ refers to her wedding day, when her fiance left her at her alter.‘…I’ve dark green pebbles for eyes ‘ Eyes are commonly called the ‘windows to the soul’ and Havisham’s eyes have become hard, like pebbles, suggesting that her soul has also hardened with anger and hatred. Green is also the colour of envy, suggesting that she is envious of her ex-lover’s life (probably he is happy and contented while she is left to wallow in bitterness and hatred).‘ropes on the back of my hands I Havisham has ‘prayed so hard’ with hercould strangle with’ hands clasped together that they have become hardened, and the sinews and veins now look like ropes. She has murderous thoughts of strangling her ex-lover with the ‘ropes’ on her hands.
8Beloved sweetheart bastard. Not a day since then I haven’t wished him dead. Prayed for itSo hard I’ve dark green pebbles for eyes,Ropes on the back of my hands I could strangle with.
9Note the lack of exclamation mark – she is serious and seemingly no longer angry? Alliteration of the blosive ‘b’oxymoronBeloved sweetheart bastard. Not a day since thenI haven’t wished him dead. Prayed for itSo hard I’ve dark green pebbles for eyes,Ropes on the back of my hands I could strangle with.Dark imageryenjambementReligious imageryMetaphor represents her jealousyUse of the model verbMetaphor represents her aging, as well as the years spent ‘wringing her hands’ with emotion / anger / nerves
10This opening stanza is both moving and disturbing This opening stanza is both moving and disturbing. The opening line, ‘Beloved sweetheart bastard’ is surprising. It indicates both the strength of her love and her pain but also the strength of her hatred.We see how this man’s actions have affected her emotionally: she is simply engulfed in pain to the point where she has nothing left to live for but her hatred of him and her wish for him to die.
11Spinster. I stink and remember. Whole days in bed cawing Noooooo at the wall; the dressyellowing, trembling if I open the wardrobe,the slewed mirror, full-length, her, myself, who did this
13‘Spinster’ is the term used for an unmarried woman ‘Spinster’ is the term used for an unmarried woman. This was because, a long time ago, women who were unmarried tended to make their living by spinning and weaving material, hence the name ‘spinster.’ However, it is a term which as very negative connotations.Compare the word ‘spinster’, and what it makes you imagine, to the word ‘bachelor,’ which is the word for an unmarried man. ‘Bachelor’ is much more positive.
14‘Spinster’ is a word which therefore has negative connotations ‘Spinster’ is a word which therefore has negative connotations. The SIBILANT sound of ‘s’ in it, and the fact that Duffy has positioned it in a sentence of its own, makes it sound as if Havisham is spitting the word out in hatred and tells us that she hates her status as an unmarried woman.The sibilant sound is carried on in, ‘I stink and remember,’ which evokes feelings of both disgust and pity in the reader: Havisham is so swept up in hatred and bitterness that everything normal about her life has disappeared. She sits alone in her wedding dress, unwashed, dwelling on the past and what could have been. We are disgusted by her disregard for hygiene but pity her pain and misery.
15One word sentence stands out Observation of what she is now (literally) – and a suggestion of what was wrong (metaphorically) with her to be dumped?One word sentence stands outSpinster. I stink and remember. Whole daysin bed cawing Noooooo at the wall; the dressyellowing, trembling if I open the wardrobe,the slewed mirror, full-length, her, myself, who did thisNeologism created to represent the pain (no word previously created to express)The cry of a crow creates gothic imageryDouble meaning – the dress trembles (personification), as if waiting to be put back away / she trembles (literally) when looking at the clothes of her pastHighlights time passedDouble meaning – past tense of ‘slay’ suggesting she has smashed the mirror in anger / also means drunk, suggesting she is unable to see her true reflection through the blur of alcoholUse of feminist reference to that of Julia Kristeva – she is unable to identify herself – ‘he’ made her an ‘object’ and she now fights to regain the ‘symbolic’ (myself)
16‘…Whole days / in bed cawing Noooo at the wall; the dress / yellowing, trembling if I open the wardrobe;the slewed mirror, full –length, her myself…’
17This stanza is the part of the poem where we most feel pity for Havisham, as she describes the terrible effect that her experience has had on her. The fact that she spends ‘whole days’ in bed tells us the extent of her depression. The word choice of ‘cawing’ gives an animalistic image of her, as though the experience has reduced her to being less than human; indeed she can barely speak anymore.The ‘dress yellowing’ reminds us of how much time has passed and she is ‘trembling’ at opening the wardrobe, afraid of facing who she has become in the mirror, and who she once was by looking at her old clothes; she is caught in limbo, unable to go back and unable to move on.‘...her myself’ tells us that she can barely recognise herself anymore because the experience has altered her so much.
21End of rhetorical question Colour of deep red to purple-brown suggests old blood which represents old woundsSuggests she no longer can access language to express her feelings – a feminist analysis explored by Caryl Churchill in The Skriker, where pain is so deep there is no language available to describe itEnd of rhetorical questionto me? Puce curses that are sounds not words,Some nights better, the lost body over me,my fluent tongue in his mouth in its earthen down till I suddenly bite awake. Love’sConversational toneLost to her / also creates sexual imagery of body in her dreamsThe dream continues and the love making is easy and poetic – she sees ‘him’She tries to make him the ‘object’The act of biting is ‘sudden’ in the dream and the suddenness wakes her. Is she imagining herself attacking him? The hard consonants, ‘t’ and ‘k’ emphasise the sudden, harshness of this action. It contrasts with the soft, poetic love described before, and ties with the paradoxical idea that she both loves and hates simultaneously (think of the opening line).
22‘Love’s / hate behind a white veil; a red balloon bursting / in my face. Bang.I stabbed at awedding cake
24Don’t think it’s only the heart that b-b-b-breaks.
25hate behind a white veil; a red balloon bursting in my face. Bang. I stabbed at a wedding-cake,Give me a male corpse for a long slow honeymoon.Don’t think it’s only the heart that b-b-b-breaks.
26hate behind a white veil; a red balloon bursting Triple meaning – ‘white’ suggests innocence, ‘white veil’ represents the wedding, ‘veil’ represents in feminist terms that she is concealing something‘red’ suggests anger, ‘red balloon bursting’ – just as her hopes and dreams ‘burst’; also, it represents her blush of embarrassment, concealed behind the ‘white veil’Love’s hate - oxymoronhate behind a white veil; a red balloon burstingin my face. Bang. I stabbed at a wedding-cake,Give me a male corpse for a long slow honeymoon.Don’t think it’s only the heart that b-b-b-breaks.Short sentence for effect – also represents the shock she experienced‘Stabbed’ creates violent imagery / ‘stabbed at a wedding-cake’ shows anger literally and metaphoricallyUse of dark imagery, reference to death links to idea that the ‘honeymoon’ would provide the long painful death she wants. She imagines torturing her ex-finance, and, indeed, men in generalUse of ‘b’ in a stuttering style, suggests the is breaking down again / she suggests that her life, her mind, has broken as a result – not just her heart. Her speech is also broken – she cannot articulate her feelings
27OxymoronHavisham Beloved sweetheart bastard. Not a day since then I haven't wished him dead. Prayed for it so hard I've dark green pebbles for eyes, ropes on the back of my hands I could strangle with.Spinster. I stink and remember. Whole days in bed cawing Nooooo at the wall; the dress yellowing, trembling if I open the wardrobe; the slewed mirror, full-length, her, myself, who did thisto me? Puce curses that are sounds not words. Some nights better, the lost body over me, my fluent tongue in its mouth in its ear then down till suddenly bite awake. Love'shate behind a white veil; a red balloon bursting in my face. Bang. I stabbed at a wedding cake. Give me a male corpse for a long slow honeymoon. Don't think it's only the heart that b-b-b-breaks.Expressing her violent emotionsMetaphorReference to age, but not having livedHer Victorian label, suggesting she will never marryReference to the wedding dress and to her own sense of decayBird imageryOnomatopoeiaRed is a passionate colourEnjambment links stanzas 2/3 3/4The reflection shows a devastated stateSo emotional she emits only soundSexual fantasyViolent & disturbing imagesOxymoronHer language echoes her pain
29Summarise what you now know about the poem: What is it about? (Content)What themes are covered?What tone does the poem have?What literary devices have been used?How effective is the poem for the reader?
30Summarise what you now know about the poem: What is it about? A woman telling the tale of being stood up on her wedding dayWhat themes are covered? Anger, revenge, hatred, deathWhat tone does the poem have? Angry, aggressive, bitterWhat literary devices have been used? Enjambement, metaphor, simile, oxymoron, dark imageryHow effective is the poem for the reader?