The Destructive Power of Perceived Infidelity

Having been transformed into an object of terror and imperfection through the potential infidelity of someone with outward physical perfection, the narrator proceeds to issue a chilling warning in the shape of a list of creatures that she has turned to stone. A mere glance at a "bee" or "bird" renders them respectively into "a dull grey pebble" or "dusty gravel". The verbs "spattered" and "shattered" are powerfully destructive and disruptive to the natural order that would otherwise prevail. In all these transformations, we are presented with a physical form reflecting an inner emotional state.

For the narrator, not to be loved is to be turned into unfeeling, cold stone. The abstractions of jealousy and betrayal become concretely present in the physical reality of "housebrick" and "boulder". The more concentrated "I looked" required to transform larger creatures again highlights the extremity of emotion she feels as much as the power she wields. Duffy chooses not to pre-modify the nouns "housebrick" and "boulder" with adjectives to reflect the narrator's simple and absolute intention to change complicated life forms instantly and irrevocably to solid matter.

Get quality help now
checked Verified writer

Proficient in: Cinematography

star star star star 4.7 (657)

“ Really polite, and a great writer! Task done as described and better, responded to all my questions promptly too! ”

avatar avatar avatar
+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

This is conveyed particularly well in the change from "snuffling pig" to boulder which "rolled, in a heap of shit". Pigs are known for wallowing in their own waste. Here, it seems that a boulder in "shit" functions as an image for the narrator as she contemplates betrayal. The only being that can endure her direct gaze is herself, "I stared in the mirror", completing the sequence of verbs beginning with "glanced" and "looked".

Get to Know The Price Estimate For Your Paper
Number of pages
Email Invalid email

By clicking “Check Writers’ Offers”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We’ll occasionally send you promo and account related email

"You must agree to out terms of services and privacy policy"
Write my paper

You won’t be charged yet!

"Look at me now", the pathos of her "Wasn't I beautiful? Wasn't I fragrant and young? " contrasts with her acknowledgement of what she has become.

Whether the anger and fury caused by her jealousy is fuelling her intentions, emphasised by the rhyming enforcing a powerful and threatening tone, or whether she cannot bear the pain she could endure from the man she loves, this is much like "Mrs Quasimodo" whose 'ecstasy of loathing' of herself drives her to self-injury and then angry revenge. The tragedy of the last line ensnares the terrible paradox of "Medusa's" dreamless fate. She is woman who not unnaturally desires to be gazed at, to be looked at with love, even with desire.

Yet who would dare to gaze upon the narrator knowing the living death that awaits them for such a look? Hence the last line is both plea and threat. And Duffy creates a moments in her poetry where a character is simultaneously in several psychological and emotional places at once. It indicates her resignation and sadness in the face of what she has become but there is also a remaining desire for Perseus to see her as she once was. Duffy indents the final two stanzas creating the ambience of a mirroring imagery. The stanzas conform to a reflection and realisation upon "Medusa" and a change is seen.

Loneliness haunts her much like "Queen Kong" who had "been so lonely". Duffy's feminist approach into her poetry creates the satirical feel that is relevant to modern day society at the time that she wrote the collection. However, her relevant ideas into feminism from the way in which society subjected women viewing them as immoral are questioned through the undertone of optimism. Love being a positive attribute, limited within the collection, is demonstrated through the use of Duffys negative concerns, creating the narrator her own voice.

Updated: Apr 29, 2023
Cite this page

The Destructive Power of Perceived Infidelity. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

The Destructive Power of Perceived Infidelity essay
Live chat  with support 24/7

👋 Hi! I’m your smart assistant Amy!

Don’t know where to start? Type your requirements and I’ll connect you to an academic expert within 3 minutes.

get help with your assignment