Analysis of the poem Essay

Published: 2020-01-01 13:50:56
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Category: Poem

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The poem Originally by Carol Ann Duffy talks about the issue of culture identity. The poem talks about change, memories, and anxiety which occurs when moving. This is conveyed through the experiences of a young girl in the poem who is reluctant to leave what she knows behind. This is made apparent through the theme of memory and the continual change of setting. The title Originally sets the tone for the poem as there change needs to occur for there to be an original.

This choice of diction allows for an expectation for what the journey will be about, while the ambiguity of the poem is written in such a way that personal experiences can be projected upon the protagonist. The aspect of the poem through tone however creates a bias towards negative emotions and experiences due to the despondent tone throughout the first two stanzas. This atmosphere of loss is aided through the use of negative emotive diction such as bawling and resigned.

By showing that the protagonists brothers are crying, Duffy illustrates how hard this is for them as crying is usually only brought on by major or sad events and loss, resigned is used to show how she has accepted her fate, but it doesnt mean she likes it. This association of emotions with the diction allows for empathy to occur towards the protagonist and her unsure feelings about her emigration. The theme of cultural identity is used in the poem in order to instil a sense of not belonging.

This feeling of unease and unhappiness is introduced through the use of bawling as this change from the place where they are comfortable and belong to the new one is both painful and confusing for them. The use of italics however, in the repetition of Home as well as the capitalisation of it, emphasises its importance to them and their desire to return to it. The use of a blind toy by Duffy can be used as a metaphor towards the protagonists new life, where, although the toy is blind, it still has eyes.

The foreshadowing could be that when the protagonist moves she will be blinded by everything which is new so that she doesnt become overwhelmed by it. She will continue to be blind to the beauty of her new home so long as she is yearning for her old one. However, once she is ready her sight will return and she will start to forget her cultural identity. At the time, the girl doesnt want this however, so she is clinging onto a toy to maintain her memories of home. Additionally, a toy is associated with childhood, so the clinging onto it may represent how she doesnt want to grow up and leave her comforts behind.

By saying in the second stanza that all childhood is emigration, Duffy allows for immediate relation to the protagonists situation. This is due to the journey of growing up to adulthood which is a worldwide experience, as well as referring to physical emigration of moving from one place to another. Improtantly however, the emigration of childhood is all made without the acceptance of the person moving, they cannot stop growing older, and parents make the ultimate decisions. This unease and the inability to understand the need to move is reinforced by the location of her new home where no one you know stays.

This introduces the tone of isolation which is reinforced by having the wrong accent, and shouting words you dont understand which immediately marks a person as being from a different area, even though the move could have been within the same country of city, the accent and slang changes. The introduction of big boys shows that she is intimidated by people from the area who are older and bigger as she doesnt know how they will react, this is reinforced by the alliteration present through the repetition of the hard d, continuing the feeling of intimidation which the protagonist encounters.

A continuation of the alliteration in sibilance, seeing your brother swallow a slug, feel only a skelf of shame, provides an insight that the protagonist is slightly proud of her brothers for adapting so well to the environment, which is then applied to herself in a continuation of sibilance in combination with a simile in that she remembers (her) tongue shedding its skin like a snake, my voice in the classroom sounding just like the rest.

This shows that she is also now adapting to her environment, reinforced by the fact that a shed skin is natural for a snake, and this adaptation is normal, although slightly unwanted. The last stanzas change in tone shows how the protagonist has changed with age. This allows for a time skip to take place into a time when she is more mature and able to reflect upon the journey easily, although with some regret. This is expressed through rhetorical questions beginning with the use of Do I only think, in line 20, which builds up an atmosphere of longing and wistfulness.

There is also a tone of uncertainty in there, as she doesnt know if she had remained in the place if the feelings of belonging would have remained, which is why she only questions and doesnt outright believe that staying would have been the best option for her. The rhyming of the words first space and right place reinforces the doubt she feels about her cultural identity. The continued doubt of the protagonists cultural identity which occurs in lines 23 and 24, illustrates how she will continue to try and find the answers throughout her life as she will never be truly certain of who she is, creating a sense of not belonging.

Although emigration is a hard thing to experience, Duffy illustrates that trying to maintain a cultural identity through such a process may cause problems later. The continued rejection of the new culture illustrates how much of an outsider it makes the protagonist feel later in life, which could have been avoided if it had been readily embraced. The place which she originates from will always have a draw, however, the acceptance of a new culture viewed as a new part of a personal culture, would be much easier to accept than a replacement to the old one.

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