Carol Ann Duffy has been called “the representative poet of her day” upon publication of “The World’s Wife”. She is a woman who sought to reveal the dynamics between men and women, in which women have historically had less power. “The World’s Wife” allows individual voices to be heard whilst Duffy builds up what amounts to an orchestra of individual women’s voices that result in a collective female voice. These voices are often forgotten or disregarded in a world that lionises men but marginalises the women who live with them.
Revolutionism is used to portray the characters and their motivations from a negative perspective, conveying a different message to that of the well known tale. Duffy’s satirical style, influence by the exploration of her feminine identity, implies Duffy’s primary concerns within her poetry to be negative. However throughout “Medusa” there’s an underlying tone which is, in fact, positive. Duffy uses “Medusa’s” appearance as an embodiment of jealousy through the subversion of the original Greek myth.
It is the jealousy of Athena that leads to the transformation “Medusa” undertakes, thus giving a metaphorical representation. Duffy opens the poem by introducing the theme female paranoia, one which causes Duffy to pass comment on how women critique themselves under modern society’s definition of perfection. Duffy emphasises this by the list of “suspicion, doubt and fear” which “grew in her mind”, creating an instant meter which is broken shortly by the use of enjambment.
Jealousy and paranoia transform the hair upon “Medusa’s” head, in the poem, into “filthy snakes” which “hissed and spat on my scalp” fortifying the hatred through the hard consonants and repeated vowel sounds creating an internal rhyme and the onomatopoeic words echoing their meaning. Through fear of being let down and being betrayed by her ” Perfect man, Greek God”, the suspicions within the narrators mind grows until they become so poisonous the hair upon her head reflect the rage and jealousy felt.
Thus the hair upon her head transforming into one of mankind’s greatest terrors, the serpent and in this instance depicting the lack in trust, conventional in relationships within today’s society. The deployment of the dramatic monologue gives the narrator a voice both self loathing and satirical. The narrator begins her monologue acknowledging that her jealous “thoughts” of Athena are alive. This is also seen in “Mrs Tiresias” who “gritted her teeth” at the thought of “her lover”. They grow, they mutate and take on identities that reassemble outside the privacy of the mind and become externalised embodiments of feeling.
There is a bitter irony around the stipulation ‘as though’ her thoughts have become snakes crawling all over her head, such companions rendering her estranged from any companionship at all. She has become the epithet of the abject woman. Duffy’s comparison of the narrator and women of today’s society demonstrates the idea of conforming to a “look” deemed acceptable by society and how individuality is viewed as immoral. The narrator finds her appearance repulsive and this self loathing invites sorrow, offering a depth and authority to her perspective.