Help on this question for Carol Ann Duffy and Anne Hathaway
How does the author, Carol Ann Duffy, fit in here? Does she identify with Anne, or is she completely distant from the poem's emotion?
A bit of both, actually. It is better that you don't simplify too much. Readers and examiners prefer depth and complexity to answers and plumping for one or the other (straightforward answer) will not allow you much room for an involved and interesting answer. Does that help you ?
In the volume “The World’s Wife” - from which Anne Hathaway come from - the poet was essentially in the background. It would be impossible to say that she does not identify with Anne. But the essence of the poem - as indeed with the other poems in the volume - was have the character speak for herself.
So - as I see it - it is the character of Anne Hathaway as described in the poem that is important: rather than seeking for hints of the poet Carol Ann Duffy within the poem.
Anne Hathaway is the first of three sonnets in the volume “The World’s Wife.” It is preceded by “Delilah” and proceeded by “Queen Kong.” It is an interesting sandwiching of the poems. In contrast with the traditional story of Delilah, this “Delilah” does not cut Samson’s hair in order to remove his strength, she does it to allow him to get in touch of his feminine side. Also, she does so because Samson has told her that he wants to be kind and gentle. “Queen Kong” inverts the story of King Kong. In this poem man is nervous and dreamy and by contrast it is “Queen Kong” who is strong, determined and passionate.
Feminism is one of the theme of this volume of poems. Michelis A., Rowland believes that Carol Ann Duffy suggests that the “genders and the sexes is not one defined by a hierarchical structure of power, resulting in the impression that men are always oppressors with women as their helpless victims.” This is certainly the subject matter of “Anne Hathaway.” There is no power struggle in this relationship, instead we see a deep and powerful sexual and loving relationship between two equals. It is possible that society may well see within the relationship a “hierarchical structure of power” but that is not how Anne and William Shakespeare see their relationship.
This equality within the relationship can be seen in the subject matter of the poem. Anne’s monologue is described with the kinds of literary terms that are also the focus of William Shakespeare’s work. The feminine focus of what Anne has to say is underscored by her use of half rhymes. Through her monologue Anne recalls moments of heterosexual erotic tenderness and imagination. This is a relationship where Anne is not reticent or shy to express her feelings and desires in such an open manner, contrary to the expectations of the society of her time.
It is interesting that within the breadth of Carol Ann Duffy’s work the female expresses desires, needs and emotions openly and often in language that might be thought to be more masculine. The women in Duffy’s poetry - including “Anne Hathaway” - feel confident about themselves and who they are. They may want men in their lives, but they do not need men to make their lives complete.