Duffy presents relationships in the poems adultery and valentines in different ways. In adultery the title suggests betrayal and deceit. It explores the wife’s feeling towards her husband’s infidelity. Whereas in valentines, Duffy shows the different ways we love people and challenges the true meaning of love.
Adultery is a regular structure of 11 stanzas. This shows repetition and also restriction. It has a regular repetitive rhythm so as to avoid losing the impact and the theme of the poem which is betrayal.
Duffy introduces her poem in an exciting and a mysterious way; wear dark glasses in the rain. This shows that the person is hiding his identity.
“Guilt. A sick, green tint” makes the reader pause and think giving the word “guilt” a bigger effect. It shows the damage caused by the action of the betrayer. She leaves the word” hands” unwritten which makes it important due to the various things a person can do with it. The second stanza creates an atmosphere of excitement and also shows a hint of prostitution when Duffy uses the line” money tucked in the palms”.
“You are naked” is also of significance because it not only implies infidelity but also the word naked could mean vulnerability. Duffy uses this to present the reader different ways to look at the partner.
Duffy uses the word “bastard” which is an offensive word. She could have just used the word bad person but instead she chose bastard because it is much more emotional and dramatic and shows the way the partner feels about the adulterer at that point in a more effective way.
It shows the bitterness and the anger which is also shown throughout the poem. This could also suggest that the adulterer was a male since woman ar usually not called bastards. The reason it could be a married couple is due to the use of the word wedding cake later.
“Sweet darkness in the afternoon” could suggest deception because people usually draw their curtains during the afternoon so that others from outside cant see. However, sweet darkness is also an oxymoron because they are two opposites. Duffy could have used these words to show how the two lovers make something that is spooky (darkness) into a more affectionate atmosphere by having sex.
The stanza increase the about sexual atmosphere by suing words such as “gasping, radiant,yes”. Duffy uses a simile in “life which crumbles like a wedding cake” to compare the adulterer’s life to a fictional life where the marriage would still crumble due to guilt. The “tarnished” spoon could be a metaphor that suggests the adulterer has been with so many other lovers as well.
Duffy suggests that men don’t live up to their promises. When they do something wrong, they try to win the other half over by buying “flowers” which could mean that they are up to no good. The word “darling” expresses the bitterness and the sarcasm of the partner. It gives us an insight on how the partner feels.
Duffy builds up tension towards the end of the poem. She uses words that have got implied meanings. Similarly, she uses this same technique for “valentines as well although the theme of the poem is totally different and represents relationships in a different way.
Valentines as the title suggests is about love and how it is expressed especially on Valentines Day. Duffy uses 1 line stanzas to give a more dramatic impact and also gives the key ideas. Duffy suggests that a “red rose” or a “satin heart” does not really carry the real meaning of love. The word “not” crates an effect which suggests that Duffy strongly thought that the roses and hearts were just fake symbols of love.
Instead, Duffy tries to have an “onion” as a symbol of love. Duffy compares her onion to a moon wrapped in brown paper. The brown paper implies the outer skin of the onion. The moon is known for its romantic setting and its” light” could mean that true love provide the light of your life. In valentines, the poem uses imagery to get a point across. The poem has got the onion as the extended metaphor with an implied meaning of true love. However, in adultery Duffy uses the words “innocent onions” to show that the adulterer implies that they have not done anything and that they are completely innocent even after all the cheating.
Duffy implies that love isn’t always going to be full of happiness. There are hardships as well which is the reason why she chose an onion. The onion can show the hardships through the” tears” when we peel an onion. Tears are part of true love. Duffy also suggests that by peeling an onion, the different layers of someone’s personality is also discovered. However, in adultery Duffy uses the word “unpeels” to suggest the sexual effect.
Usually, photos are indicated for nostalgic moments of life. However, Duffy twists this idea by using” photo of grief” which implies that there would be sorrow and depression in love. She is trying to say that these are the truths of love. She uses “not a cute card or a kissogram” to imply that she was against normal gifts that did not really hold the true meaning of love. However, in adultery “your flowers dumb and explicit on nobody’s birthday” can portray that the person is up to no good. A flower which is a normal symbol of love is portrayed as betrayal and heartache.
In valentines love is used as the key basic towards a good relationship. In adultery, the word “love” is used as an accusing comment by the partner to the adulterer. It suggests that the adulterer does not really know all about love since he is cheating. “a ring thrown away” shows that the marriage would most probably end due to the deception. Similarly in valentines, Duffy mentions a “wedding ring” which is important since it’s a sign of love. On the other hand, Duffy could have used this to suggest that marriage is not the best option if there is no passion in a relationship.
The word” lethal” is unusual to be in this poem. This however could mean that love is lethal in a way. It’s a metaphorical death of love that is break-ups. This word similarly is also mentioned in adultery for a different situation though. In adultery, Duffy builds up a situation on all the different ways the person cheats. She uses the word lethal to make sure that the reader doesn’t feel comfortable with the deception and the betrayal. This word shows the dangerous consequence of adultery. However, in valentine the repetition of the word ‘cling’ shows the way feelings can take a grip on people. On the other hand, in adultery the feelings certainly didn’t make the relationship between the two people any stronger.
In valentines, the poem uses imagery to get a point across. The poem has got the onion as the extended metaphor with and implied meaning of true love. Whereas, in adultery Duffy uses language technique of implied or hidden meanings to create a mood that builds on and then changes it. She uses language effectively to present how the partner feels.
The poem adultery could be personally linked to Duffy. She might have had relationships where she was hurt or was betrayed by her lover. Whereas, in valentines she could have just wanted people to experiment and modernise their way of thinking instead of just sticking with the old boring meaningless ones.