” The poems in ‘Mean Time’ are about the different ways in which time brings about change or loss. In the collection Duffy means to write about time. The effects of time can be mean. Mean can mean average. In the events in the poems can happen to an average man or woman. The dwindling of childhood. Ageing. The distance of history. The tricks of memory. The end of love. New love. Luck.” In ‘The Suicide’ and ‘Havisham’ Duffy shows how normal people react to devastating events, which have happened in their lives. Often reliving the very moment for the rest of their lives. The writer does this by using dramatic monologue (direct speech, 1st person narrative) and surrealism expressed through clear imagery.Order now
Being jilted, ‘Havisham’ and attempting suicides, ‘The Suicide’, are rare performances but can happen to anyone, the first event can lead to the second, depression or even a nervous breakdown. Events are relived in victim’s minds, like a movie, different every time it is watched. We can see this effect in ‘Havisham’, it starts off with hate, “beloved sweetheart bastard.” And ends with revenge, “Give me a male corpse for a long slow honeymoon.”
When committing suicide arguments for and against are weighed alongside each other, from what is written the reader can only see and feel one side of the argument, the argument for committing suicide, “Kisses on a collar. Lies. Blood.” No arguments against ‘the suicide’ have been made conveying that the person can only think about what has happened to them, this thought blocks out everything else and is the only fixation relived. When someone tells a friend about them attempting suicide the first question asked is ‘why?’ the more times this question is asked the more times the person will have to think about what has happened, therefore relive the moment as many times.
A dramatic monologue is a device where a ‘character’ speaks directly. ‘The Suicide’ and ‘Havisham’ are dramatic in that the speaker is unconscious of his/her role of the narrator and of the fact that, in telling his/her story, they are revealing their character. In ‘The Suicide’ and ‘Havisham’ the use of monologue gives a voice to the lonely, disadvantaged, bitter lover/partner. ‘Havisham’, “Not a day since then I haven’t wished him dead.”
Primarily it presents a way of bringing the poet’s self into a public world whilst simultaneously denying responsibility and masking presence. A character speaking and being portrayed. ‘The Suicide’, “I dress in a shroud.” The writer uses dramatic monologue to give a deeper effect, because only he/she knows the truth, it lets the reader look through the person’s eyes, therefore it is easier for the writer to portray emotion, helping to place the reader in the character’s mind where the event(s) are played over and over; just like in a cinema the reader is devoted and engaged. ‘The Suicide’, “My body is a blank page I will write on.” ‘Havisham’, “…I suddenly bite awake.”
Using dramatic monologue to place the reader in his/her mind, Carol Ann Duffy goes on to use surrealism to a certain degree. The character’s sub-conscious mind is expressed images in sequences or associations such as may occur in dreams, as before, in the cinema, where there were only words are now pictures to fit and complete the ‘film’. ‘Havisham’, “I stabbed at a wedding-cake.” Surrealism speaks of experiences, which are usually unmentionable or secret. Even when discussed an element of the experience remains mysterious. ‘The Suicide’, “The horrid smiling mouths pout on the wallpaper…” There is a contrast between the private and the public, the blatant and the hidden, the knowable and the unknowable.