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Carol Ann Duffy – 10 Mark Model Answer

2016 Past Paper Q - By referring closely to this poem, and to at least one other poem by
Duffy, discuss
how the poet explores the attempts of characters to cope with life-changing situations.

Poem in Exam – “Originally”

Commonality – 2 Marks

Duffy’s poem “Originally” highlights the challenges faced by young people moving home, in
this case focusing specifically on Duffy’s move from Glasgow to England as a child. The
poem describes this as a very upsetting experience before going on to conclude that
moving and changing is a natural part of life which we adapt to as we grow older.
“Havisham” also describes the very upsetting experience of the narrator who has been
jilted on her wedding day and the huge emotional impact this has on her for a long time
afterwards. Unlike “Originally” it seems that the woman in “Havisham” is unable to move on
and progress with life after her life-changing event.

Extract – 2 Marks – Recommended 2 x Quotes with 2 x Comments

“Originally” includes details of how upset Duffy’s brother was with the move “Bawling,
Home, Home” as they travelled to their new destination. The use of the word ‘bawling’
suggests inconsolable crying suggesting as a child we can’t see that life will usually
improve with time.

At the end of the poem Duffy conveys a sense that with maturity and time we can cope
with life-changing situations when she states “my voice… sounding just like the rest”
illustrating that with time her accent and attitude has changed and she has fitted in with
her new home, realising that after trauma, positive feelings can emerge with time.

Other – Havisham – 6 Marks – 3 detailed examples / 6 short examples – Or a

In “Havisham” the narrator seems unable to adapt and cope with being abandoned just
before marriage.

“Beloved Sweetheart Bastard” – This oxymoron in the opening line of the poem emphasises
that the narrator potentially still loves the man she was to marry – “Beloved” - but has
conflicting emotions that she can’t get over as the word ‘bastard’ is usually used to
describe a cheating partner who has betrayed his partner. (1 mark)

“Spinster. I stink and remember” – The use of the minor, one word sentence strongly
reminds the narrator and the reader that she is alone and unlikely to ever marry
emphasising how she can’t move on after being jilted. The reference to “remember” shows
that she is continually looking back to what her life was like before she was betrayed and is
unlikely to move into the future. Instead she’s stuck in the past. (2 marks)

“I stabbed at a wedding cake” – In this part of the poem Duffy emphasises Havisham’s
aggression and anger at how she has been treated. Instead of getting on with life she takes
out her frustration by violently attacking a cake which represented her marriage. It is
interesting that Duffy has chosen to refer to the impersonal “a wedding cake” instead of
“my” suggesting that she can’t accept what has happened to her and attempts to de-
personalise the revenge she enacts. (2 marks)

“Give me a male corpse” – Finally, Duffy shows Havisham’s ongoing fury when she states
she would like a dead body, implying that she wants her ex-partner to be dead as a form of
revenge for what he has done to her. A “male” perhaps suggests that she feels this way
about all men. (1 mark)

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