Analyse The Poem The Suicide From Duffys English Literature Essay

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The poem 'The Suicide' is a dramatic monologue; this type of poem is a continuing theme in 'Mean Time.' Another of her poems, 'The Captain of the 1964 Top of the form team' for example, was also written in this form. The title of 'The Suicide' is quite ambiguous in itself- it could be referring to the act of suicide or indeed to the persona her -or his-self. It is as if the speaker is absorbed by the act of suicide - everything that the persona has said in the poem is related to the taking of one's life, and anything unrelated to the act is completely disregarded.

The setting of 'The Suicide' is acknowledged easily on in the poem. The line 'small dark hours with a bitter moon buffed by the smudgy clouds/ till it gleams with resentment,' allows the reader to clearly envisage the time at which the suicide will take place. It is important that it takes place in 'the small dark hours' because generally, this is the time at which most suicide attempts transpire - time itself is suppressive, but cannot be suppressed. This links to the poem 'Mean Time,' within the phrase 'darkening sky' and in particular in the conclusive stanza of the poem, 'But we will be dead, as we know, beyond all light/These are shortened days and endless nights.' These lines allow for the emotive, darkened mood of the persona to be expressed, and relate somewhat to the feelings enunciated in 'The Suicide.' The fact that the moon is described as 'bitter' presents the mood of the persona themselves, immediately clarifying that something desperate - 'Despair laced with a little glee' - is going to occur. The phrase 'I lie back under the lightbulb' allows for the understanding of the loneliness of the situation; she is taking her life in a place of isolation, away from other beings. The 'lightbulb' and the light that it emits emphasise the extreme nature of the act she is going to execute, as well as referring to the metaphorical 'light' that you can see when nearing death. The use of the personification of the moon, 'till it gleams with resentment,' contrasts with the girl's desire to be recognised - the moon does not want to be noticed - it is resentful of this- but the subject does and is using suicide as a means of getting this attention. The single word 'Famous' is used as a means of expressing the thoughts of the persona- if she was to commit suicide, then she would be remembered for it, and would get the recognition that she craves; just as the popularity of Kurt Cobain, and Marilyn Monroe, for example, increased after their suicides.

Despite all of this, the persona is most certainly in control of the situation - 'leave it to me.' In the play 'Macbeth', by William Shakespeare, Lady Macbeth, upon planning a murder herself, comments 'Leave all the rest to me.' In stanza five, Duffy again relates her poem to Lady Macbeth's use of interrogative in the line 'give me the daggers.' The persona states 'I get out the knives;' knives being plural, almost representing ritualistic behaviour, preparing for death in a specific manner. The persons desire for control extends to the metaphor, 'My body is a blank page I will write on,' implying that the death will be both physical and visual.

The persona is frequently referred to as being 'unusual' - Duffy writes 'Nobody drinks with their whole face,' implying that nobody is altogether one being- but the persona is- 'I do.' This links to the poem 'Stealing' and the final line, 'You don't understand a word I am saying, do you?' It links in the sense that despite everything she has said, the reasoning behind her desire to end her life is still a blur to the audience. We do not understand; nobody does - 'Nobody's ears are confessionals.' It enunciates the complexity of the emotions that the speaker endures. Duffy uses a paradox in describing 'eyes in the glass, like squids' as being 'sexy' - it is as if the persona is speaking in reverse.

In the fifth stanza, Duffy

Duffy uses caesura in the poem frequently to emphasise particular words and phrases- in stanza two, the use of the minor sentence 'Lies. Blood.' is an example of syntax - lies are presented before blood, with the intended implication that lies lead to blood. Throughout the poem, Duffy presents the speaker as being vindictive, using the interrogative 'get out the knives,' and 'who wants a bloody valentine.' The latter is quite ambiguous; a literal reference to a blood covered valentine, or figuratively meant in a colloquial, dismissive sense. The use of language and bitterness contrasts with the soft, optimistic attitudes of characters from numerous other poems from Duffy's 'Mean Time' collection, and also links closely with the romanticized, unique representation of love in 'Valentine' where an onion, representing love, 'clings to your knife,' but meant in an entirely different concept to 'The Suicide,' where the only thing clinging to her knives would be blood.

In the penultimate stanza, two different, contrasting extremes of emotion are presented; a dismissive nature, and one typically self-regarding. The use of the curse 'Fuck off' is aggressive and vindictive, and clearly expresses the emotions that the persona is experiencing. In contrast to this, 'Worship' allows for the feelings that the speaker wishes to experience to be recognised; she wants to be worshipped, she wants to at least gain some recognition. She states that 'This will kill my folks', which, linking back to stanza five, contrasts with her saying 'Utterly selfless.' She sees the act as being unselfish, however recognises the pain that it is going to cause her parents. It also represents the irony of the situation; her blunt statement shows that she knows that her parents will be broken by her suicide, but regardless of this, she appears to proceed with the act; she has no will to live, and sees suicide as the easy way out, conveying the damage that the persona feels. The act will literally kill her, and figuratively kill her parents. In stanza two, Duffy uses repetition of the words 'Never never never never enough,' a phrase that is somewhat echoing of the mood- it shows the hysteria behind the situation, and how, no matter what happens, she will never be satisfied with her life the way things are going.

In conclusion, Duffy uses the poem 'The Suicide' as a means of