Compare and contrast - Sample Essay

In recent weeks in English we studied 3 poems of varying origin and of various types of poetry. We studied Havisham, by Carol Ann Duffy, Stop all the clocks by W.H. Auden and Valediction: Forbidden mourning by John Donne. All of which are about the loss of loved ones, but in a different way. In ‘Havisham’, the bride (Miss Havisham) was left at the altar by her to-be-husband; she has sat in her dressing room in her wedding dress for year after year since that day. In ‘stop all the clocks…’ someone has lost a loved one, they have died. The poem is about what the person expects to happen when something so big happens in life and everyone else just carries on like it’s another day.

‘Valediction: Forbidden Mourning’ is somewhat different though, it is not necessarily the loss of a loved one, but a parting. The writer of this poem wrote it for his wife when he went away; it is about all the good things that will come out of them being apart. Like when they come back together how happy they will be and although it will be a test, it will be worth it. In the following piece of coursework I will be comparing the differences as well as the similarities of the 3 poems. I will also be studying the mood of all 3 poems.

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The mood of the 3 poems varies greatly as they are about different types of loss. I will look at the mood of Havisham first. Havisham is a poem of great fury and hate, with a twist. Because although Miss Havisham seeks revenge her ex-fianc� it seems that if he walked through the door and asked her to marry him again she would accept. The mood created by the unusual language is one of surrealism the use of juxtapositions and the way sentences don’t even end when the poet starts a new paragraph is just something that you just don’t see at all. It is almost rebellious in the way that it mocks grammatical correctness.

Miss Havisham herself is surreal, the way she talks, the way she acts, everything about her is like something of a ghost story. She has sat for years in her dressing room, in her wedding dress ageing, withering, where she has plotted the gruesome demise of her ex-fianc�. The food from the wedding still remains on the grand table being eaten by rats and festering away. The overall mood of Havisham is Anger, fury, and passion, because she may still love him, “Beloved sweet-heart bastard” is a quote that backs that up because it creates the illusion that she doesn’t really know how she feels. It is though she is confused to the point where she has a split personality. On the other hand, in “Stop all the clocks” the mood is very sorrowful and depressing, because the person whom he loves is dead and he has nothing to live for.

He feels total and utter despair and is highly emotional, despite this; he keeps very controlled, Unlike in Havisham where she goes completely insane. He just tells the world to stop and acknowledge this great tragedy that he has suffered. But it doesn’t happen; everyone carries on with their being. The poem has an AABBCCDDEE rhyming scheme and is very ordered and calm, I think it represents the personality of the poet. The mood at times is also frustrating, that he wants the world to look up and take notice but alas, nothing. Valediction: Forbidden Mourning, however, is not begging the world to stop, it is a plea to his wife, to understand that he must go away, and comparing their love to all sorts of monumental, huge occasions such as an Earthquake. The mood is difficult to understand, because although they are both sad about the fact that they will be separated he tries to explain that all will be better when they are re-united than things are now. It is almost a mood of anticipation. How he can not wait till the day he returns and the utter happiness that he will feel.

The use of language in Havisham is so unusual and controversial that it gets to the point where it almost makes no sense. The use of oxymorons and enjambment is used to the extreme and some of the metaphors are disturbing, this may reflect Carol Ann Duffy’s state of mind, as she is a feminist who tries to “cast down the shackles of male oppression” by her use of illiteral grammar and lack of rhyme scheme to reflect her own incoherent thoughts.

The way she compares Miss Havisham’s eyes to green pebbles, green being the “colour” of envy and jealousy implying that she is morbidly jealous of other more fortunate women. Also the “ropes on the back of my hands” that she says she is going to strangle her ex-fianc� with, the ropes being wrinkles, a sign of just how long she has been in that situation. “puce curses that are sounds not words” is another of Carol Ann Duffy’s puzzling metaphors. Puce is the colour of dried blood, so it is though she is saying that the curses are in her blood. “The slewed mirror” another metaphor adding to the surrealism of the poem. slewed meaning twisted and broken. But perhaps it is not the mirror that is broken, maybe it is her own image that she sees as destroyed. Duffy lets her feelings for men show through in this poem.



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