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'Medusa' by Carol Ann Duffy

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    I was wondering if anyone could help me. For My AS coursework we have to answer a question on Medusa and I'm confused as to what its about as I was away for the lesson which my class studied it. I have tried to make a critical analysis on my own but seem to be hitting a blank. The only themes I came up with were Jealousy, Self Loathing and loneliness but I don't seem to be be able to back it up.
    Any input would be much appreciated
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    (Original post by Cinderella2194)
    I was wondering if anyone could help me. For My AS coursework we have to answer a question on Medusa and I'm confused as to what its about as I was away for the lesson which my class studied it. I have tried to make a critical analysis on my own but seem to be hitting a blank. The only themes I came up with were Jealousy, Self Loathing and loneliness but I don't seem to be be able to back it up.
    Any input would be much appreciated
    .

    Hi Cinderella.

    Don't worry you are on the right lines. I am a trainee English teacher and am here to help you. Just call me fairy godmother lol. I have just completed an analysis myself. This is what i have come up with I hope it is useful.

    Firstly, don't know how clued up you are on ancient Greek Mythology but Medusa was one of the three Gorgan sisters- the only one that was mortal. She had a grown a nest of hissing vipers for hair in order to punish the goddess Athena who was the Greek goddess of Love. It was said that when any one looked at her face thy would instantly be turned to stone. Jealousy is a strong theme running throughout the poem and kicks off from the outset. You may wish to talk about how jealousy can very quickly grow from something very small to something overpowering. Line one you have the triples, suspicion, doubt then 'jealousy.' In terms of the language, this poem with heaving with aggressive, insidious sounds. Look at the sibilance used in the first stanza created by the verbs, ' hissed ' and 'spat' and also nouns snakes and scalp. an s has a very continuous sound and could symbolise how jealousy spreads and spreads very easily. You may also , in referring to the notion of snakes as being symbolic of jealousy, draw upon a biblical allusion. Remember it was the jealous serpent who tempted eve to eat from the tree of knowledge.

    The character in the poem is indeed lonely, but her loneliness seems to have evolved as a result of her own self destructive thoughts. The poem presents us with no evidence that she is being cheated on . That she believes she will be though is crystal clear. Self destruction is definitely a major theme. Third stanza, she refers to her man as a Greek God and this is possibly an allusion to Perseus who sliced off Medusa's head with his sword. Perhaps this stanza shows her insecurity. Evenb though she loves him , she believes he will ultimately leave her for somebody else. Look at the triple again building the stages of how this will come about. ' go, betray, stray'. The final line suggests of this stanza reperesents her wanting to take control of the situation but by destroying it herself.

    Sorry , gotta go and pick the kids up from school. I hope this helps. I have quite a bit more i could discuss with you about this poem. If you would like me to reply to you again let me know and I am happy to continue but I hope this is a good start.

    janeybaby
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    I am currently studying "Medusa" at the moment too, and we were having a discussion in class about whether or not Medusa feels ashamed of herself about being so ugly and turning everything to stone. i think that she must feel ashamed because she has such a lonely lifestyle, and also she does not want to look like this. this is shown, i think, when she says that she "glanced at a buzzing bee". she didn't intentionally scour the earth to find something or someone to turn to stone, the bee just caught her attention and she turned it to stone. i don't think that Medusa is deliberately or intentionally malicious, it's just the way she is. in my mind, if she had the choice she would not kill all these animals and the people that she comes across.

    Also, when she says at the end "your girls, your girls" i think she is resentful that she is not one of them, and that she is no longer as beautiful as they are. she remembers her former glory.

    When she says that the "snuffling pig" turns into a boulder rolling "in a heap of ****" i think it sort of reflects how her own life is quite ****, and how she longs for something else. after all it was not her fault that she was turned into a monster- it was Athena who needed to reaffirm her state of power by punishing her for being raped in her temple. (quite harsh i think!)

    Anyway, if you agree with me, or don't agree with me then please let me know. Also i am trying to get into contact with the poet so if anyone has her contact details (her e-mail adress would be most helpful) then if you could pass them on to me then i will be over the moon!

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Updated: June 18, 2011
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