The aim of “The Worlds Wife” anthology is to give a voice to ultimately unheard female characters, in the shadow of their male counterparts. This allows them to create their own identity as an individual character and to stand up for themselves, against their usually negative portrayal by men. Duffy’s sentence structure and lexical field of anger and jealousy creates a sense of sympathy throughout the poem. The poem allows the reader to see the story of Perseus (The man who killed her) from her perspective. The register the poem in suggests anger, jealousy towards and also dismay for men.
The first line of the poem uses asyndetic listing/triplet to add pace and momentum to the poem, “A suspicion, doubt, jealousy”. The use of these three abstract nouns and using them as an enjambed triplet will engage the reader and so want to discover what it is she is stressing about, making the reader sympathise with her. Duffy tries to convey the sense of Medusa’s insecurity throughout the poem as a key theme to make the reader sympathise with her; this is shown in the very first line, “A doubt”. This suggests she is unsure or worried about something, which at this point is unknown to the reader: however, his engages the reader into her story to discover why she is worried and is made apparent that this will be an ongoing theme throughout the poem. The theme of insecurity is continued in the second line, “Grew in my mind”. The use of personification creates a sense of maliciousness or evilness to her thoughts, as if it’s growing inside her and taking over her mind. This, arguably, makes the reader worry for the character and sympathise with her. It could also suggest that medusa is frightened or unsure of what she has become. Later, Duffy uses the rhetorical question “Wasn’t I beautiful?” This further suggests the idea that she is unsure as to who she is anymore as she asks the question in the past tense, as if to say she isn’t beautiful anymore and therefore a new person who she does not like. It could also be Medusa’s insecurity taking over as she asks if she is good enough or not for Poseidon (who she had relations with before being turned into a Gorgon) and asking if she is not as good as Poseidon’s wife, Athena. It conveys the idea that no one wants to be around her and she’ll forever be alone, as everyone will move on or find someone better, “I know you’ll go”. Furthermore, it suggests she has been through a similar experience before and is now weary of trusting someone completely as she has been hurt too many times before. The use of assonance at the end of the line, “Betray me, stray” creates gravitas around the stanza and ends, impacting heavily on the reader.
Despite being a lover of the gods turned monstrous Gorgon, her story is very relatable, as she feels she hasn’t done anything wrong, her only crime is falling in love and trying to maintain a relationship. In the third stanza, this is shown when medusa admits “It’s you I love” which in context of the poem has negative connotations, almost sinister. However, in reality, it is normal and reasonable to be in love which readers can sympathise with, understanding why she thinks it is unfair she has been punished. Her ability to turn anything into stone is shown in the fifth stanza when she turns a cat into a “house brick” however; the pragmatics of turning regular household items into stone suggests she had dreams of being a normal housewife, which were ultimately destroyed by trying to achieve that dream, which creates empathy so readers sympathise with her.
Similar to most of Duffy’s retelling of various stories, Medusa lives in a heavily male dominated society. In one…