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Education For Leisure: Presenting Disfunctional Characters

In this essay I am going to compare how both ‘The Hitcher’ and ‘Education For Leisure’ present disfunctional characters. Firstly Both of these poems involve an element of violence, however Education for leisure strikes us the most as the narrator states in the first sentence ‘Today I am going to kill’ this is a very strong start and very different. Usually the first sentences of poems are cheerful and then they might gradually turn into something bad, but Duffy uses a high impact sentence which appeals strongly to your feelings, making you feel surprised or shocked.

This means the reader will want to carry on to see why would the person would want to kill. Secondly in both poems the narrators inflict harm to other people and/or creatures. The narrator in Hitcher hits the hitchhiker he picks up with his steering lock before throwing him out of the moving car, and feels no guilt – he comments ‘I remember thinking, you can walk from there.

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‘ Similarly in Education For Leisure the main character comments ‘I see that it is good’ after flushing a goldfish down the toilet.

The language used is more violent than the actions it seems. However even though both narrators inflict harm on others both poems have their differences. The reasons for the speaker’s violent in actions in Education For Leisure are because he has been mistreated at some point in his life. The speaker illustrates this when he says to himself in the second line “I have had enough of being ignored”, so he decides to take out his anger on things that can’t fight back just like a bully.

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The speaker’s attitude to violence is that he doesn’t even care when he kills, he does it because he is bored and has nothing else to do and he can just turn off and not feel guilty. The speaker likes the power and control whether it is a fly or a fish. Duffy portrays the teenage boy as very arrogant. ” I am a genius” and “I walk the two miles into town for signing on. They don’t appreciate my autograph”. This shows that he thinks very highly of himself and with his violence he doesn’t care if he hurts anyone.

Even his cat avoids him as the cat can even sense something sinister about the speaker. In comparison “Hitcher” written by Simon Armitage is also about a troubled person, this time being a bit older than the person in “Education for Leisure” who is a bit annoyed with life and also wants to take his anger out on something. This person is also a bit sick in the head and doesn’t feel guilty of doing wrong. Like Carol Duffy in “Education for Leisure” Simon Armitage uses the technique of writing in first person and colloquial speaking.

Armitage writes about violence in a very relaxed manner just like the person would have thought “without a care in the world”. This is for the same reasons, so the reader can access the speaker’s thoughts and get the real story, rather than just planned assuming someone is thinking that. To conclude I think the two poems Duffy and Armitage have written about violence to show that people often have been mistreated before they turn to violence and have reasons.

But that is no excuse to turn to violence, there is no need for it not even if it will make you feel better. In “Education for Leisure” he is killing for sake of it because he is bored. However in “Hitcher” he appears to be mentally stressed which is why he was turned violent The poems have a big impact on you and put things into perspective that you are very lucky and don’t have to resolve to violence to make you feel better.

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Education For Leisure: Presenting Disfunctional Characters. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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