Mrs Beast – Carol Ann Duffy
Carol Ann Duffy’s Mrs Beast is a poem surrounded with many simple yet complex understandings and meanings. However written from a feminist’s point of view I believe that Mrs Beast is based around the idea of women dominance verses women’s insecurity. Mrs Beast as a title is very ambiguous because it can give the reader a range of idea’s and thoughts into the opening of the poem. It allows from first hand glance for the reader to literately believe that woman are beasts as in relation to women’s dominance over men.
However is this really true because it could be argued that she is called Mrs Beast because of her masculine qualities and relating to the overall female body as the ‘laddette’ culture, which is a modern day term for a female who withholds masculine qualities. ‘These myths; I’ll put them straight’ This opening verse to the poem is very appropriate I feel for the whole Carol Ann Duffy collection because from Carol Ann Duffy’s viewpoint, as a feminist she is her own voice within her poems to voice her own opinion through her characters.
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Such as Mrs Beast. ‘Helen’s Face, Juliet’s… Nefertiti’s, Mona Lisa’s’ Within Mrs Beast, Duffy gives a short list of fictional and mythical female characters. All of these women have been loved and known by men because of there outside beauty. Here Duffy is generalising about women’s need to look good for men. Then Duffy goes on to talk about The Little Mermaid who again like the other beautiful women she was loved because of her beauty but not only this but she also changed herself physically for a man. got up and walked in agony’ This is almost as if Duffy is amused by the lengths of which women will go to, to please a man. ‘In fishnet tights’ Like many of Duffy’s phases they can be argued from different viewpoints. In my opinion I think that this is Duffy using visual imagery to describe how women are caught by men or otherwise caught up by men in there own selfish ways. However some critics may argue that the meaning of this is literal also the whole visual image gives a provocative portrayal of women as a whole to be prostitute like and cheap
Duffy’s has the use of very colloquial language when she writes is almost as if she’s talking amongst friends in conversation. For example. ‘Look love’ She goes on to describes men as a generalisation. ‘Prince, pretty boy, a charming one’ in this colloquial language. By using this aural language she is almost seemed to be brushing men aside and also representing men as being superficial. Which relates back to the beautiful women who were only loved because of there appearance to men. This underlines the way in which Duffy perceives men, which is a very negative and sometimes cynical perception.
Throughout many of Duffy’s poems she uses very sexual and erotic images. ‘The sex is better’, this is very masculine language which seems surprisingly odd as a women is not ‘meant’ to uses language which is seen as a mans language. I feel that Duffy is saying two things, that women in our modern day have the power and position within society for it to be passable to use such language however metaphorically looking into the poem I feel that this is Duffy’s way of showing how women cover up their own emotional feeling by adding pretence to themselves.
For example ‘tough as fuck’ and the use of male like animals, ‘ape wolf, a dog… ‘ She also uses the term ‘stinking wound’ which again literately meaning a bad cut however this can also symbolise the female genitalia which again promotes the use of masculine language. It is almost as if she’s mocking her own sex as she talks about it with a very sinister and dirty manner. ‘good’ ‘better’ and ‘best’ Duffy’s use of this short and direct language gives smugness from the women’s point of view. It is again representing female dominance over men.
At this point within the poem I feel that from the outside appearance she is almost emotionally stronger and more dominant however deep down I feel this is contradicted, which is uncontrollable as she is deep down a women. ‘ a bottle of Chateau Margaux’ The use of this image is very feminine as it is normally seen as a feminine feature to depict an object from a room such as wine. However this image is yet again shattered by the fact she ‘quaffed’ it down again relating back to ‘laddette culture’ and masculine ways. I had the language girls’ I feel this is the first point in the poem where the reader can take an understanding to Duffy’s views. This verse of the poem shows how by women using this masculine language and other features known to men are covering up their true personalities. This therefore allows you to feel sympathetic not only to Mrs Beast but to women as a whole to see what lengths women will go to be accepted within society and to be dominant over men.
‘But behind each player stood a line of ghost unable to win. ‘Marilyn Monroe, Diana, princess of Wales’. I feel this is one of the most significant verses of the poems as it suggests that however hard women try they will always fail. Again Duffy list a number of women who again were put on a peddle stool by men because of there looks but deep down within there soul ‘ghost’, away from there so much desired lives and Hollywood style they were a haunted by there own selves and who there really were which seemed to make them so un-happy. So I was hard o the beat win or lose’ This line suggest that the Beast herself knows what she is doing and knows the consequences with it, unlike me who are portrayed to be un-intelligent.
‘The captive wives, those less fortunate then we’ From Duffy’s point of view she is expressing the fact that if women were not to cover up their emotions and to put on pretence they would be ‘captive’ by men. So it is almost as if women within society no longer have choice in the matter, its either being a stereo-typical women and being walked all over by men or acting masculine to gain male authority. ‘… as a chiffon scarf for an elegant ghost’ This line Duffy has uses to represent the fact that when women change for men there souls are always behind them, however this could again be argued that the use of imagery however represents a very Hollywood setting of a women standing tall and dominant over a balcony with normally a man below. This symbolises the hierarchy structure of the women being of higher status of the man. ‘Let the less loving one be me’ I feel that this last verse is the most significant one from the poem as much like a conclusions it brings together the whole poem in just a few words.
Duffy using the word ‘let’ is almost as if she is pleading and references to god and prayer support this argument. ‘and I made a prayer’. Now this is showing a very feminine representation of Mrs Beast and how she is not so tough now but in ways slightly vulnerable. This whole line is completely striping her of her masculinity and showing how women cannot cover up for ever and at some time ‘break’. Unlike many other poems written by Duffy I feel that Mrs Beast allows the reader to be sincerely sympathetic towards women rather then completely mocking there stupidity.
I feel that this poem is the vehicle for which Duffy ca voice her opinions and experiences which is why it is more sympathetic as it may relate to her own personal happenings. Overall Mrs Beast has a portrayal of women to change and cover-up for the sake of men and to gain dominance within society by lowering their standards ‘down’ to men. However the real question is; does it really work? And does it succeed in making women feel better? Or is the whole act purely on the outside but what lies within is a lot deeper and meaningful but women cannot voice this?