Carol Anne Duffy's Exploration Of Loss In "Havisham"

930 words - 4 pages

“Havisham” by Carol Anne Duffy is one poem in which the poet explores loss. The poem is written as the monologue of an elderly woman whose fiancé had, in her youth, left her at the altar. The woman is so devastated that she cannot progress in life and dwells on what could have been. After experiencing the loss her future husband and her opportunities for the future, she is unable to take off her wedding dress, clear away the decorations from her wedding day, or move on. It is my intention to explore how Duffy explores loss through her use of word choice, imagery, structure, symbolism and monologue, in order to deepen the reader’s understanding of this emotion.

The poem is written as ...view middle of the document...

Contrastingly, the character no longer seems vengeful and bitter, she seems heartbroken. In allowing the reader to hear the way in which the words are said, which could only be achieved through the use of monologue, Duffy conveys the range and strength of the character’s feelings. She deepens our understanding by showing the devastating effects of loss and the different reactions one can experience.

Duffy uses imagery also, to deepen our understanding of Miss Havisham’s plight. Again, she suggests the intense emotional turmoil of the character, as she drifts from sadness to rage. The character wishes her fiancé dead and Havisham has cried so profusely she feels she has “dark green pebbles for eyes”. The metaphor here compares her raw, hardened eyes with stones. Duffy suggests she has almost lost the ability to cry, as her eyes have dried out. Making this connection suggests that the character has countless nights crying for her fiancé, and so the extent of her sorrow is revealed. Havisham goes on to describe the “ropes on the back of (her) hands (she) could strangle with”. This image is violent and aggressive. The character has envisioned strangling or hanging her husband out of the sheer hatred she feels toward him. The “ropes” could also be referring to the thick veins on her hands, which have developed in her old age. Duffy highlights the character’s age to convey the idea of lost opportunity. Miss Havisham has wasted her life; in her old age she has achieved nothing and merely sits wallowing in her past, unable even, to remove her wedding dress or wash.

Duffy uses contrast to compare reality for Havisham to what could have been. This suggests the idea of...

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