Conversely, in “Mrs Aesop”, the dramatic persona created is much more witty and in charge than the personae in the previous poems. The role reversal puts her in the superior position, as she is telling the story and she challenges her husband and his linguistic potency. There is an initial sense of her exasperation, where she condescends him and describes the pain of enduring his stories, ‘he could bore for Purgatory’. The persona is presented as intelligent, as she uses language to her advantage and as a weapon against her husband.
The use of italics in the poem, patronise her husband and make his words sound like nonsense, ‘Dead men, Mrs Aesop… tell no tales’. She uses clichi?? s to mock and control his fables as she rewrites them in her own manner, which is sharp and to the point unlike his, ‘bird in his hand… two worth less in the bush’. Clichi?? s are also used to her advantage to show how triumphant she is after threatening him, ‘I laughed last, longest’, thus transferring the power from the male to the female.
Her speech constructions establish a humorous approach and she ridicules his stories, genre and generally him.
As a contrast to the other poems, “Mrs Aesop” feels no loss and little if not any love for her husband, instead she enjoys proselytising. The dramatic persona was created to “punish” Aesop the writer of moral fables “in some way for the clichi?? he pumped into language”. The account of “Mrs Aesop” is rather bitter and the fable to almost spat out, bringing great emphasis to her contempt for him, ‘slow but certain, Mrs Aesop, wins the race.
Asshole’, the use of italics ensure that the fact that she cannot stand him is crystal clear and the word on its own summarises her opinion of him.
The irony is that she in a sense has written her own fable, which is more to the point and not as metaphorical and confusing as Mr Aesop’s. The dramatic personae in Duffy’s poems are not the sole device that make the poems humorous and “help subvert and tease the way we think about myths”. The language used in the poem “Mrs Aesop” is sharp, hard and unyielding, where it shows her belittling him physically, ‘He was small’ and ridiculing his attempt to impress after mocking his physical appearance, ‘So he tried to impress’.
Duffy uses similes and assonance to reinforce the feelings she wants to create, such as ‘slow as marriage’ and ‘story droned on’, where the idea of his stories dragging on due to the long sounds, is created. She singles out words, ‘Tedious’ and ‘Asshole’, summarising her opinion and attitude towards him. Aesop is ridiculed and made to look like a boring, cautious, not daring man, ‘look… then leap’. The style of the poem is rather humorous, due to the persona’s quick, witty remarks undermining her husband.
The inclusion of her husband’s secondary voice in the poem is a contrast to hers as he is uninspiring, self-absorbed, considering himself wise when she makes him look like a fool, ‘Donkeys would… prefer to be lions’. The structure of the poem is made up of short phrases and questions, with a repetition of clichi?? s, which build up her frustration. The use of enjambment ‘sex was diabolical’, is humorous in presenting the idea and enforcing how bad it is. She succeeds in inverting his mythical stance even further, as no interpretation is needed of her account.
Similarly in the poem “Mrs Midas” the spouse is also made to look like a fool, however explores the failure to consider the self in relation to the other in a relationship. A domestic setting is established from the beginning of the poem, which juxtaposes with the myth and introduces comedy. ‘I’d just poured a glass of wine’, forms a false sense of security, through the conversational tone, as it contrasts the unusual situation that follows. The personified kitchen ‘filled with the smell of itself…
relaxed’, highlights the familiarity of the situation and presents as a contrast between the domestic and sensual imagery, ‘blanching the windows’ and ‘my fingers wiped the other’s glass’. There is a narrative progression reinforced by the language, ‘Now the garden was long… visibility poor’ and a sense of distance between them. The ominous language introduces the feelings of unease, ‘dark of the ground’ that creates imagery of death and burial. It is at this point when the pace of the poem begins to slow down, with a spotlighted word, ‘plucked’, showing the gradual realisation and shock of what she is seeing.
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