Duffy's 'The Devil's Wife': Unmasking Sinister Depths

Categories: Wife

The exploration of Carol Ann Duffy's poem "The Devil's Wife" delves into a dramatic monologue from Myra Hindley's perspective, offering insights into her life in prison and reflections on the infamous Moors murders with Ian Brady. Through the adept use of poetic techniques such as word choice, structure, and imagery, Duffy weaves a narrative that intricately constructs a sinister atmosphere, evolving as Hindley's life progresses.

Dramatic Monologue and Narrative Reliability

The structure of the poem is a dramatic monologue, skillfully crafted by Carol Ann Duffy.

However, the narrative's reliability is questionable as it is not directly from Myra Hindley herself. This adds a layer of ambiguity, inviting readers to scrutinize the authenticity of the narrator's perspective.

Creation of Sinister Atmosphere

The sinister atmosphere is established from the outset with the opening lines. The strategic use of the word "devil" in reference to Ian Brady immediately paints him as malevolent and untrustworthy. The phrase "men at work" serves as a double entendre, portraying Brady's dual influence—physically working alongside Hindley and mentally manipulating her, evoking a sense of unease and foreboding.

Get quality help now
Bella Hamilton
Bella Hamilton
checked Verified writer

Proficient in: Wife

star star star star 5 (234)

“ Very organized ,I enjoyed and Loved every bit of our professional interaction ”

avatar avatar avatar
+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

Further complexity arises with the phrase "he entered me," carrying a dual meaning of a violent sexual relationship and Brady's control over Hindley. The ominous undertones deepen with "he made me bury a doll," leaving readers questioning Hindley's involvement in the murders and whether she was coerced or actively participated.

Ambiguity and Guilt

The progression of the poem introduces ambiguity surrounding Hindley's culpability in the crimes. Phrases like "I won't repeat what we did" create suspense and force readers to contemplate whether it refers to intimate acts, the murders, or perhaps both.

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!

This ambiguity amplifies the unsettling nature of Hindley and Brady's actions.

Further Development of Sinister Atmosphere

The poem delves deeper into the sinister atmosphere through detailed descriptions of evil acts and the sexual relationship between Hindley and Brady. Duffy masterfully maintains suspense with phrases like "looking at playground, fairgrounds," directly referencing one of the murders and heightening the chilling effect on readers.

Hindley's admission of guilt with "id walk around on my own. he tailed" reinforces her active involvement in the murders. Duffy's choice of words and vivid descriptions accentuates the distressing nature of Hindley and Brady's deeds.

Physical Description and Symbolism

The physical description of Myra Hindley adds another layer to the poem's sinister atmosphere. Phrases like "tongue of stone," "two black slates for eyes," and "thumped wound of a mouth" paint a picture of violence and control in Hindley and Brady's relationship. The term "Medusa" further links to Hindley's emotionless stare and her self-perception as a monstrous figure, mirroring public opinion.

Control Theme

A prominent theme in the poem is the control Ian Brady exercises over Myra Hindley. Examples like "no body liked my hair. no body liked how I spoke" underscore Hindley's transformation under Brady's influence. Despite her life sentence, Hindley's continued obsession with Brady, evident in lines like "I wrote him every day" and "I'd lie on my bed, on fire for him," emphasizes the profound impact of Brady's control over her.

Remorselessness and Imprisonment

Hindley's lack of remorse becomes apparent, with lines like "I howled in my cell." This howling is not indicative of guilt but rather the inability to be with Brady. Despite the heinous crimes, Hindley's fixation on Brady showcases the extent of his control over her, leaving readers with a disturbing portrayal of her mindset.


Through the meticulous use of word choice, structure, and imagery, Carol Ann Duffy crafts a sinister atmosphere throughout "The Devil's Wife." The reader is left with a chilling and dark feeling, a testament to Duffy's ability to unravel the complexities of Myra Hindley's perspective and her tumultuous relationship with Ian Brady.

Updated: Dec 29, 2023
Cite this page

Duffy's 'The Devil's Wife': Unmasking Sinister Depths. (2016, Oct 13). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/the-devils-wife-by-carol-ann-duffy-essay

Duffy's 'The Devil's Wife': Unmasking Sinister Depths 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