Presentation on theme: "Duffy AS Revision Notes: Beautiful Notes from the podcast."— Presentation transcript:
Duffy AS Revision Notes: Beautiful Notes from the podcast
Summary of Beautiful A poem which traces famous “beautiful” icons through time (Helen of Troy, Cleopatra, Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana). Each woman is described as powerful and autonomous, but each is famed for “beauty” more than anything. Each died in an unpleasant way, the poem suggests somehow that their fame (“beauty is fame”) aided their demise.
Language in Helen of Troy section The imagery of “a bird inside a cage” is poignant as it represents all of the female icons described. They are all trapped as “beautiful” females inside the “cage” of fame. Helen of Troy was kidnapped as a prize for Paris as she was believed to be “the most beautiful woman in the world”.
Language in Cleopatra section In Cleopatra’s section there are luxurious descriptions of exotic Egyptian objects: “rosted songbirds, gleaming figs, jasmine scented milk” These all allude to her femininity and juxtapose with her male, Roman lover Mark Antony. The juxtaposition is surprising when Duffy chooses to place Cleopatra in a drinking game where “she matched him glass for glass”. She describes Cleopatra as having “held her drink” “until the big man slid beneath the table wrecked”. The amusing contrast defies the gender expectations showing her strength.
Language in Marilyn Monroe section In the description of Marilyn Monroe, she is described as a pawn of the wealthy studios – “She sang to camera one, gushed at the greased up lens, her skin investor’s gold”. The juxtaposition of joyous singing and the studio equipment, reminds the reader of how her sexual behaviour was often for the camera, and the word “investor’s” emphasises how she was marketed and used as a product rather than respected for her talent.
Language in Diana section Finally in the last section which alludes to Princess Diana, with the mention of the pose in front of the Taj Mahal. The motif of “Beauty is fame” is repeated but this time it is “beauty is fate”. The change to “fate” alludes to the destined pain and suffering that descends on a women famous for her beauty. The onomatopoeic “gibbering” of the cameras suggests the way the paparazzi drove Princess Diana mad. The course aggressive and offensive phrases in italics: “Act like a fucking princess” and give us a smile, cunt” both bring sharply into focus the tabloid judgements thrown at her and reminds the reader of the role the press played in her demise. The offensive language also suggests males using the sexist language (“Princess” and “cunt”), and reflects the misogyny of society that feeds such tragic stories.
Structure of the poem Duffy crowds each section of the poem with numerous caesurae creating lists and making the pace of the poem fairly hectic. For example, “Then it was coffee, pills, booze, Frank on the record-player, it was put on the mink, get in the studio car. Somebody big was watching her – White fur, mouth at the mike, under the lights”. The hectic tone of the poem reflects the hectic lifestyle endured by Monroe and the way men are pulling at her for what they desire.
Structure and Form of the poem The form of the poem, is mock-epic. The poem is split into four fairly even sections – each focussing on a different woman in time. The name of the woman is never mentioned but the reader is able to match the descriptions to the icons of history: Helen of Troy, Cleopatra, Marilyn Monroe and Diana. The poem mentions “Beauty is fame” in the first section on Helen of Troy, the repeating motif with the twist “Beauty is fate” in the last section on Diana, gives the poem a cyclical feel, and this perhaps carries the tragic and cautionary message of the poem. That our male-dominated society still destroys its most impressive female icons.