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Compare & Contrast 6 Poems Essay

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All the poems you have read are preoccupied with violence and/or death. Compare the ways in which the poets explore this preoccupation. What motivations or emotions do the poets suggest lie behind the preoccupation?
You must analyse at least six poems, ensuring you include at least one pre-1914 poem.

In this essay I will compare and contrast a collection of different poems by Carol Anne Duffy, Robert Browning, Ben Johnson and Simon Armitage.
I will discuss the similarities by which these poems explore themes of death and violence through the language, structure and imagery used. In some of the poems I will explore the characters’ motivation for targeting their anger and need to kill towards individuals they know personally whereas others take out their frustration on innocent strangers. On the other hand, the remaining poems I will consider view death in a completely different way by exploring the raw emotions that come with losing a loved one.

Despite the differences between the characters in the poems, I will also go on to say how the preoccupation with death and violence all seem to stem from the apparently unstable minds of the characters; from the instability brought on by varying emotions such as grief, jealousy, resentment, guilt and madness, and the fact that these emotions may lead to paranoia.




‘Havisham’ is a poem about a woman (based on the character from Charles Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’ of the same name) who lives alone, often confining herself to one room and wallowing in self-pity because she was apparently jilted at the alter by her scheming fiancé. ‘Havisham’ has been unable to move on from this trauma and is trapped in the past. Her isolation has caused her to become slightly mad.
She feel...


... middle of paper ...


...t days in a persons life though for Havisham because she was jilted at the alter, the only memories she has of her wedding day is of her violence and aggressiveness and when she ‘stabbed at the wedding cake’, normally a newlywed husband and wife cut and eat the wedding cake together whereas Havisham’s trauma has led to her actually stabbing at her own wedding cake because of the hatred she cannot handle.


Likewise in ‘Salome’ Duffy uses visual imagery such as ‘his head on a platter’ and also uses colour imagery ‘the reddish beard’ red is associated with blood.
She also uses aural imagery;

‘Never again!
I needed to clean up my act,
Get fitter
Cut out the booze and the fags and the sex.
Yes and for the latter,
It was time to turf out the blighter,
The beater or biter,
Who’d come like a lamb to the slaughter
To Salome’s bed’

Though in ‘The Laboratory’


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