Human Interest is a poem revealing how love can drive people to murderous levels. Written by Carol Ann Duffy, this poem displays the treatment of women with a modern, chilling storyline. The use of Iambic Pentameter adds a rhythmical, fluctuating quality to the poem. This is also present in William Shakespeare’s, Romeo and Juliet, however the way Shakespeare executs this is to portray the love shown. Whereas in Duffy’s poem, iambic pentameter is used to create an ‘on edge’ feeling. It also can be considered that the pace is similar to the beat of a heart. This creates a continuous tension throughout. The title “Human Interest” entices the reader because of its vague nature and how it does not reveal the disturbing story that enfolds. We as humans are interested in the events that ensue within the poem, and so has the desired effect of reeling the reader into the poem and it’s storyline.
The use of slang words are frequently apparent in the first two stanzas as the man reflects in his sorrow state of mind. Phrases such as ‘banged up’ and ‘I’d slogged my guts out for her’ are not only harsh and laborious to pronounce, but give the impression that he has become emotionally unbalanced by the murder. This choice of language by Duffy connotes the bitterness and resentment felt by this man. The narrator describes the intense emotional turmoil that this man is feeling through very strong, physical symbolism. “I felt this heat burn through my skull until reason had died” contains vivid imagery that paints a picture of how his grief is engulfing all his thoughts and taking over his mind. As his anger intensifies, his description of what she has done includes many hurtful and resentful phrases like ‘meet some prick’ and ‘stank of deceit.’
This portrays what he thought of this woman and puts women into a bad light as cheats and liars. Duffy includes many devices to evoke sympathy from the reader through ‘i loved her.’ The use of past tense invites a reflective tone and the full stop creates a pause of sincerity. In addition, sympathy is strongly conveyed by the physical metaphor ‘she tore me apart,’ as to tear someone’s skin is extremely violent and painful. In the third stanza he identifies the gift his partner’s lover had given to her as ‘chain with a silver heart.’ This could be interpreted as if in his partner’s affair, their love wasn’t equal, as silver is a cheap metal showing less effection. Although, this could be interpreted from the man’s point of view, in that he believes his partner is worth more than all the silver in the world, meaning he wouldn’t have bought her that, but something better. This indicates love and remorse still felt for the woman that he’s murdered. ‘Chain’ could also be related to restriction: suggests the ‘chains’ of possessive jealousy and the speaker’s current captivity.
As the poem reaches it’s final phrase, it describes a twist in the plot of a very unpredictable erratic man. He tries to reassure the reader that he isn’t a bad man by saying he would never ‘harm a fly.’ This phrase includes irony since he has just carried out a mallius, jealousy driven attack on a woman he clearly thought highly of since that moment.
Courtney from Study Moose
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