Analysis of Poems ‘Eurydice’ and ‘Mrs. Midas’ by Carol-Ann Duffy
A woman’s voice, her opinion and her viewpoint have all been heavily disregarded in the past centuries, with a woman being seen as an accessory to a man rather than an individual with the capability to think for herself. However, Carol Ann Duffy’s anthology ‘The World’s Wife’ seeks to correct the gender inequalities, with the poems Eurydice and Mrs. Midas portraying strong minded and authoritative females that retell the Greek mythological stories from a women’s point of view. In both poems Eurydice and Mrs.
Midas we are introduced to two women who in mythology have been overshadowed by their more famous husbands or left out of the story completely. Through Duffy’s extensive use of language features such as humour and metaphors in the poem Mrs. Midas, we are able to understand the previously unheard point of view of Mr. Midas as she comprehends the breaking down of her marriage to the mythological King Midas and deals with the selfishness of her Husband’s wish for the ‘golden touch’.
Through the use of allusions, capitalization and humour in the poem Eurydice we can see Duffy’s intent to transform the original Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice to give a rather unspoken and innocent Eurydice a new devious persona. Duffy seeks to make the reader consider another viewpoint in a rather one dimensional society by allowing Eurydice to voice her opinion of not wanting to return to Orpheus despite him trying to rescue her “with his lyre and a poem to pitch with me as the prize”. In Mrs.
Midas, Carol Ann Duffy introduces the character Mrs Midas as your typical housewife as “I’d just poured myself a glass of wine, begun to unwind, while the vegetables cooked. ” The first use of assonance, in the long ‘I’ vowel sound creates a sense of calm before the big storm, before King Midas’ golden touch destroys their marriage. The setting for the first stanza of the poem is set with the aid of imagery which is used to create an optimistic and happy relationship between Mrs. Midas and her surroundings with a carefree attitude. However when Mrs.
Midas spots her husband when “he was under the pear-tree snapping a twig” the tone of the poem changes as the line introduces some violence, and foreshadows the breaking of Mrs. Midas’ marriage to her husband, King Midas. In Eurydice, Duffy also uses language to foreshadow the apex of the poem, where Eurydice refuses to follow Orpheus back from the underworld. “Girls, forget what you’ve read. It happened like this,” is the turning point where the reader realises the first half of the poem is not how the series of events occurred, but rather the following stanzas is how the story really went from Eurydice’s point of view.
The direct address of “girls” grabs the attention of the reader to show a sudden transformation of the original myth being told, which implies that the outcome from the original tale has been disregarded, helping to foreshadow what Eurydice’s real actions were; “I stretched out my hand to touch him once on the back of the neck… He was smiling modestly, when he turned, when he turned and looked at me,” these events allowing Eurydice to stay in the underworld where she wanted to stay. Duffy uses language to design Mrs.
Midas’ character as a pretentious housewife trying to be in a higher social class than she is. Through subtle sentences like “We’d a caravan in the wilds, in a glade of its own” where she brags that her caravan has its own glade, gives Mrs. Midas a pretentious attitude. Additionally Duffy uses assonance in “He asked where was the wine…a fragrant bone dry white wine from Italy…” with a long ‘I’ sound slowing the pace and creating a genteel sound that mimics the middle class accent. However Duffy uses the language feature of diction to change the nature of the poem.
From smooth, rolling words of imagery – “…as he picked up the glass, goblet, golden chalice, drank. ” to direct, short, monosyllabic sentences -“He came into the house. The doorknobs gleamed. ” The change of tone and following short sentences are used to show how through the surfacing anxiety of Mrs. Midas, she is able to carefully explain her every action with comments such as “I locked the cat in the cellar. I moved the phone. The toilet I didn’t mind. ” The use of humour not only breaks down the barrier between the reader and herself, but also releases her previous pretentious attitudes.
Yet looking through this use of humour, we can see how Mrs. Midas is still taking control of her situation which effectively place her in a more dominant and authoritative role in the relationship between herself and King Midas. In both Mrs. Midas and Eurydice, Duffy uses allusions to compare different things. For example, in Eurydice by alluding to characters familiar to the reader such as “Him. Big O,” famous singer Roy Orbison, the reader can understand what Orpheus was truly like in Eurydice’s opinion. A familiar knock-knock-knock at death’s door,” another allusion, to Bob Dylan’s “knocking on Heaven’s door,” symbolises that Eurydice’s death, leaving her in the underworld and free from Orpheus is her idea of heaven. Both of these allusions allowing the reader to make comparisons and links between the characters and familiar people and songs. Duffy also alludes to gold several times in the poem Mrs. Midas. With sentences such as “And who, when it comes to the crunch, can live with a heart of gold? ”