The poems ‘Havisham’ and ‘Anne Hathaway’ by Carol Ann Duffy both portray two women thinking about men; however they have very opposite emotions. The speaker in ‘Havisham’ feels a mix of emotions but mainly bitter hatred and violence towards the man who left her at the altar. Anne Hathaway, however, thinks very fondly of Shakespeare in the second poem. Both poems involve strong emotions and the use of the first person in each helps to make the emotions seem more personal and immediate.
The first three words of ‘Havisham’ are “beloved sweetheart bastard”, this oxymoron shows the speaker’s contrasting emotions towards her lover; she used to love him but now hates him for leaving her. The speaker in ‘Anne Hathaway’ however, describes Shakespeare as “My living laughing love”, she has affectionate memories of him and even though he is dead she talks as if he were alive. The speaker in ‘Havisham’ has been completely consumed by her hatred. She says there is “not a day since then/I haven’t wished him dead”.
She is unable to stop thinking about him; she can neither forgive nor forget him.
It seems that Anne Hathaway, too, often thinks about her loved one. She, however, remembers him in the context of “the bed we loved in” and remembers how blissful and contented she felt with him in that bed. Anne Hathaway uses vivid imagery to describe Shakespeare and their bed. The speaker describes their bed as “a spinning world/of forests, castles, torchlight, clifftops, seas”.
It is as if when she is in bed with Shakespeare she is in one of his plays, in some exotic location or enchanted, magical world. Imagery is also used to describe the effects that the intense anger has had on Miss Havisham.
When she looks in the mirror she says: “Her, myself, who did this to me? ” This shows that her appearance seems unfamiliar to her and she is shocked by her transformation. She now has “dark green pebbles for eyes”, this suggests she is stony and dead inside, unable to feel love because of the pain she has suffered. She also now has “ropes on the back of my hands I could strangle with”; by saying this it shows not just how she has physically changed but also shows her murderous thoughts. Both “Havisham” and “Anne Hathaway” involve beds.
In “Anne Hathaway”, Anne and Shakespeare’s bed is the stage for “romance and drama”, and while in bed with him Anne feels like “he’d written me”, as if he has brought her into being. In their bed they are making poetry together, whilst in their best bed, guests are “dribbling… prose”. Miss Havisham, however, is alone in her bed, it is devoid of romance. Instead her bed is saturated with grief and hatred as all she does is “stink and remember”, she is not making poetry in her bed, instead she spends “whole days/in bed cawing Nooooo at the wall”.
In her bed she fantasises having her sweetheart’s “lost body” over her, and she imagines her “fluent tongue in its mouth”, this macabre image shows how underneath her anger Miss Havisham feels lonely. The structures used for the poems vary. ‘Anne Hathaway’ is written in the form of a sonnet. This form was often used by Shakespeare so it is fitting that the character of Anne Hathaway should use it too. In ‘Havisham’ the structure looks orderly with four lines in each verse but this contrasts with the content of the poem and doesn’t reflect Miss Havisham’s confusion.
The characters in both of the poems are holding onto memories of their loved ones. Miss Havisham cannot stop thinking about the day her sweetheart left her. She has been unable to move on and she is even still wearing her “yellowing” wedding dress. Anne Hathaway says she is holding onto the precious memories of Shakespeare, “in the casket of my widow’s head”, this is an apt metaphor because a casket is where you put valuable items and she is therefore keeping her memories safe. Both poems vary in nature. “Anne Hathaway” is quite a sensual poem.
“Havisham”, however is quite an angry and at times violent poem, for example in the final verse the speaker says: “I stabbed at a wedding-cake Give me a male corpse for a long slow honeymoon” Her stabbing shows her violent and maniacal behaviour, and when she says “male corpse” she is showing her underlying hatred of men and maliciousness towards them. ‘Havisham’ is a poem full of grief and regret while ‘Anne Hathaway’ is a celebration of Anne Hathaway and Shakespeare’s love. The women in both poems behave in very different manners and feel very differently towards their loved ones.
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