Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Education for leisure" by Caroline Duffy

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Answer the following questions on the poem ‘Education for Leisure’ by Carol Anne Duffy in the form of an essay

Why do you thin Duffy uses language in the way she does?

What effects do you think she wants to achieve, and how does she use language to achieve it?

How successful do you find the poem?

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In the poem ‘Education for Leisure’ Carol Anne Duffy used language in order do draw the reader into the mind of someone who seems to be a bit psychotic and allows the reader to explore someone elses mind. To begin with, the title, ‘Education for Leisure,’ implies that the poem is going to be based around the idea of maybe extra curricular activities. However this is contradicted by the picture of a knife beside the poem which suggests that there will be a more sinister direction to the poem. This is because knives often represent murder.

In the opening Stanza the use of short sentences by Duffy makes the poem seem more menacing and it also contributes to the reader feeling as though the are directly experiencing the thoughts of the narrator as they are going through his/her mind, ‘Today Im going to kill something. Anything.’ Duffy then uses pathetic fallacy in order to express the emotions of the reader, ‘It is an ordinary day, a sort of grey with boredom stirring in the streets.’ I think she does this in order to create an atmosphere for the reader to enter as they are drawn into the mind of the narrator.

Duffy places the reader directly into the mind of this potential killer, in the second stanza, as ‘I squash a fly against the window’ as ‘We did at school.’ The effect of this is that the reader begins to create a personal connection to the narrator and their sinister thoughts become our own. This is successful because by the end of the poem the reader is pulled out of the narrators mind and bought back to reality with a twist leaving he reader wondering how they could have been in the same frame of mind as the narrator. Also in the second stanza the narrator begins to show what he thinks of himself, ‘I breathe out talent‘. This is a metaphor for the narrators intelligence which relates back to the title of the poem, ‘Education for Leisure’, this tells the reader that the poem is going to be about the intelligence of the narrator. A type of intelligence that maybe cannot be taught but is invented within a persons mind. Lastly in the second stanza the narrator articulates his interpretation of murder as being ‘in another language’ and therefore makes the act of murder something a lot less sinister than it should be.

Short sentences are continually used throughout the poem and this continues to constantly express the direct chain of thought of the narrator thus keeping the reader in the narrators state of mind, ‘I am a genius.’ Also the use of assonance, ‘I could be anything at all’, gives the tone of the poem a more harsh edge. The effect of this is to illustrate the mood and tone of the narrators voice by creating harsh ‘a’ sounds. In the third stanza it seems as though the reader uses the act of killing in order to express how much of a ‘genius’ that the is, ‘The cat avoids me. The cat knows I am a genius, and has hidden itself.’ It is almost as though writer is trying to show that the narrator feels that in order to be a ‘genius’ a person has to be inferior to other living things so that they can feel the wrath of his intelligence. And by using them almost as a sacrifice to his ego he can see the greater good of his act, ‘I pour the goldfish down the bog. I pull the chain. I see that it is good.’ The effect of this is that the reader is wondrous as to how a min can work in such an obscure manner and is almost forced to read on in order to further explore the narrator mind. It is very obvious that by the end of stanza four that the narrator believes his intelligence is being ignored, ‘I walk two miles into town for signing on. They don’t appreciate my autograph.’

The narrator also attempts to tell people however ‘He cuts me off.’ The effect of this is that the reader begins to almost feel sympathetic towards the narrator. However from the point of view of the killer it seems as though his train of thought is not one that feels sorry for himself but now he feels that he has to prove his ‘genius’ to people I order to gain some sort of recognition. This is shown because as soon as he is rejected by the radio he gets ‘our bread-knife’ and goes out. This suggests that he reader is going to experience yet another living organism moving into ‘another language.’ ‘The pavements glitter suddenly.’ This sentence is a pivotal moment in the poem as it is the moment when the reader is thrown out of the mind of the narrator and is placed into the position of the victim of the narrator. The effect of this is that it is almost as though the reader has explored the mind of the person who is about to kill them and has virtually thought their thought with them.

Another purpose of the poem ‘Educating for Leisure’ is to show the reader a different type of education that has not, and cannot be taught. The readers are being educated by a different type of ‘genius’ who believes that a living thing can only experience his ‘genius’ by being killed and so in the last stanza he is educating us, the victim. The effect of this is that the reader put into a situation where their thoughts take on a different perspective of the events than they usually would.

In conclusion I believe that Duffy uses language throughout the poem in order to keep the readers attention. The effect of this is that the reader is drawn further into the mind of the psychotic narrator and is almost forced to become part of his thoughts. This is achieved by the use of; short sentences, which set the pace of the poem, alliteration, which sets the mood and tone of the poem, and metaphors which reveal the characters underlying feelings and thoughts.

I think that the poem was very successful. This is because it almost forced me to look and explore the insanity of someone elses mind which I think will help me be able to relate more to the character of Jed Perry in the novel ‘Enduring Love’ by Ian McEwan. This is because I think that it will help me understand why Jed changes situations to suit him because like the narrator he too is trying to gain recognition, from Joe.

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