Saturday, 7 May 2011

Considering 'Havisham' by Carol Ann Duffy

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 this
to 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's
hate 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.
What feelings are conveyed by the metaphor 'dark green pebbles' in line two?
What effect is created by the speaker referring to her lost lover as a 'lost body' and a 'male corpse'?


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  2. In 'Havisham', the colours used portray the feelings of hatred within the speaker. The metaphor ''dark green pebbles'' shows the envious and jealous attitude of the speaker, as green has connotations of envy. It could, however, also reflect how she is hardened by her experiences, as shown through the plosive sounds of ''pebbles''; this brings out the theme of anger and hatred. Moreover, it reflects the psychological state she is in, as she has ''prayed so hard... pebbles for eyes''; her desire to get revenge on her lost lover has turned into an obsession to get revenge on all men.

    When the speaker asks for a ''male corpse'' to satisfy her sexual fantasies, it reflects her disturbed, unsettling state. This shows that -although she wants to get revenge on him- she still loves and needs her lover, as emphasised through the use of the oxymoron ''Beloved sweetheart bastard''. By referring to her lover as a ''lost body'' and ''male corpse'', it shows the effects of the betrayal; she wants to get revenge on all men, as shown through violent imagery. It could also reflect her own feelings of dehuminasation (as shown through the title 'Havisham') and how she feels about men due to the betrayal; she dehuminases them, as she feels they do not have feelings.

  3. I may be going off point but I do think 'dark green pebbles' has an affectionate back-story to it. Knowing that guteral and plosive sound both have hard and harsh tonalities as well as connotations; I'm still convinced that Havisham was a romantic at heart - and deep down, hadn't lost that dying quality.

    Notice the use of green; it could connote to sickness and decay. ANd it could also connote to envy, worry and desire (one colour of green has connotation of wealth and godly possessions: emerald green). Taking this into consideration, we mustn't forget the 'dark...pebble' within the line. This may hint to Havisham's desire and love for her lover being deminished and darkned to the size of a pebble.

    They sometimes say that love has no limits but here we see that hers has been shrinked down to the size of a pebble. Though her desire and love haven't been venquished completely as she still has that pebble of love that is waiting to be nurtured by to health. And if I dared personify it, I would say that the pebble was her soul and that it 'worried' for her - worries that it would never get the chance to return it master to her glorious self.

    This ties in perfectly with the effect of the use of 'lost body' and 'male corpse'. I get the feeling that Havisham is alone and just in need of company. Yet her lover is lost to her - without much hope of return - and so she would rather enjoy the company of a corps (as she is sure that it would not desert her).

    See what I meant, she's a romantic at heart... ^_^

  4. The metaphor ‘dark green pebbles’ used in the second line of the poem has some very strong feeling behind it. The colour green has connotations of envy and bitterness, both of which are also exemplified in the rest of the poem. It also creates a very unpleasant image, suggesting that the speaker has become very unattractive with age. The metaphor of pebbles is quite unusual, although the usage of pebbles may indicate the dark coldness that the speaker has developed over time of being left alone depressed from being jilted.

    The speaker describing her lover as a “lost body” and a “male corpse” shows us that regardless of his actual state, the speaker considered him to be dead. It also has a dehumanizing effect, referring to his body as a “male corpse”, no name is mentioned and the corpse seems to be more of an object than another person.

  5. 'dark green pebbles for eyes' is an interesting metaphor, featuring also some colour imagery; the colour green is symbollic of jealousy and envy, though also decay; if we take into consideration the speaker's total atrophy, mentally and physically, the colour is a well-used device. What once could have been a beautiful woman, now an old, bitter 'spinster' is in her place; further lines go on to greater detail the putrid old lady. Pebble is a very strange word, however; while this could be simply be another means of explaining her callous outlook on the world, we can also be a bit more enterprising with our interpretations; perhaps her eyes, much like a pebble, are now 'dry', devoid of all tears, instead replaced with self-loathing and bitterness?

    The parts referring to 'lost [bodies]' and 'male [corpses]' are quite erotic; the speaker tells us of a sexual encounter with this 'lost body'; perhaps the speaker still, despite her coarse feelings and anger, longs for her husband, or at least companionship. We are led to believe this however, until the phrase 'bites awake', the warm scene once again dragged into reality with the speaker's (often violently worded) dismay.

    'Male corpse' and 'lost body' objectify this mysterious groom completely, meaning that she no longer sees him as a living person; to her, he is dead, for the pestilence he has afflicted her with, and for causing her life to, much like her wedding cake, rot away and crumble. The dreary imagery further conveys the violence in the poem, and her hatred for men; a strong reinforcement indeed, if every male 'character' in the poem (which is a mirror of the speaker's thoughts) is deceased.

  6. To describe the eyes as 'pebbles' is an unusual comparison. The metaphor suggests that in place of what is often described as a persons best feature are a pair of eyes that are cold and empty. It could be said that they are emotionless yet to me it is clear that Havisham is anything but that. The opaque nature of a pebble hints that the eyes of Havisham view the world in a similarly 'opaque' manner, blind to anything but her new found hatred of men and the image of what she has become. The colour green has strong connotations of envy and jealousy and the darkness again suggests the emptiness she feels.

  7. Describing her 'lover' as a 'lost body' and a 'corpse' reveals deep in her heart she no longer feels any emotion at all towards him, to her, he is nothing but a memory that has faded away, in her heart he appears dead. Carol Ann Duffy describing her lover as a 'corpse' is an exagerated metaphor, because she is not stating he is like a 'corpse' but infact he is a 'corpse.'

  8. Duffy uses vivid imagery throughout the poem. 'dark green pebbles for eyes'. Pebbles are usually seen as grey round heavy stones, so maybe she feels his eyes are made of stone, he sees no light, no good and no passion. Also it gives the feeling he is quite a sinestor being. The colour 'green' not only is suggested as an envious word but also connotes resentment.

  9. The terms 'corpse' and the 'lost body'that Miss carol ann duffy uses for her speaker to describe her 'lover' are extremely exaggerated metaphors, which could be depicting how she 'Havisham' has developed over the time period that she had been left a strong siniterous hatred towards her lover and somewhat and living males when qoutes "give me a male corpse for a long slow honeymooon" which could be a chance for her to bask in her lonliness with this male corpse, which could also in return comfort her.