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Human Interest by Carol Ann Duffy

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Polly Clapham

on 25 February 2014

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Transcript of Human Interest by Carol Ann Duffy

The poem is about a man who killed his girlfriend when he found reason to believe she had cheated on him with another man (he had found a necklace that another man had given her). The man stabbed the girl in a moment of extreme jealousy. He claims that he still loves her and is not a violent person.
Human Interest is a petrachan sonnet following the traditional rhyme scheme of ABBAABBACDCDCD.Thepoem uses many short sentences to possibly create the effect of a bunt knife stabbing. Each line is written in iambic pentameter, which shows the emotion of the man, and the love and heartbreak he is feeling. The fact that it is written in a sonnet (a love poem) is interesting because the poem is based around death and a love that ends life. The poem begins quite angrily, as it is trying to portray the jealousy that overcomes him, but in the last stanza the anger fades away to show the man's growing grief.
Ideas/Themes & Quotes
The poem helps us to understand the actions taken by the man and the events leading up to it. Using the first person form to support this, as well as the matter-of-fact approach, along with the fact that it is only at the end of the poem that the speaker asserts that he wouldn't hurt anyone or anything. "Heat" shows that he lost all sense of reasoning and logical thought. It also incorporates the idea that spur of the moment actions can have long term affects, some irreversible. For instance, his girlfriend is dead and he has a lifetime prison sentance.Yet it is clear in the poem that the more important effect on him is his grief, which chokes him. It also suggests the idea that a single action does not define us and that he still loves her, even though she cheated on him. The final few lines tell us that his girlfriend "wasn't a tart or nothing". This is a double negative so it could mean that she is. It also states that he "wouldn't harm a fly", despite the fact the poem is about how he murdered his girlfriend .
Links to Juliet's Power in Romeo&Juliet
Human Interest is linked to Juliet's power because it portrays the power that some women can have over men. Sometimes using their beauty, like the girl in this poem did when cheating on her boyfriend. Juliet's power over Romeo eventually led to their deaths, which is similar to the power that influenced the man to kill his girlfriend in the poem.
Power shown in the poem
Power is shown in many ways throughout the poem. Most obviously, power is demonstrated when the woman is stabbed. The man can stab her easily, without any difficulty, which shows that he has power over her. By being stabbed, the girl becomes weak and unable to fight back at her boyfriend. This could give him the feeling that he had “won” and punished her for cheating on him. This quote: “for what took thirty seconds to complete” shows that stabbing her is a simple act, but requires power. “I felt this heat” is a short sentence that makes impact on the audience; it shows the loss of emotional control. “… reason had died” means that he had, in a sense, gone insane. He had lost all reasoning and power over his mind, making him uncontrollable and foolish. The power may have been fueled by the jealousy he has when he finds out she is cheating on him. The power of his emotions has overcome the reasoning in his head, causing him to make a life changing decision.
His girlfriend also has power. She has the power to be able to cheat on him and play on his emotions. She is in control of her actions, just like the man, and they both choose to use them in hurtful ways- one with a more permanent destination.

Language and Imagery
The violence in the poem is represented as hot, with the 'heat' that 'burns' through his skull, which contrasts to the description of gentleness in the last line: 'I wouldn't harm a fly' . This portrays the love and violence that the narrator feels in the poem.
The imagery used to describe the girl and the other man is bitter and negative. 'She stank of deceit' shows that is was physically obvious that she was lying to him. The word 'prick' was used to describe the other man, which emphasizes the speaker's hatred and loathing.
Metaphors are also used to emphasize the violence of the narrator. The metaphor 'slogged my guts out for her' shows how hard the man worked for the girl, and also links to the fact that he was now 'slogging her guts out' in return.
The pronouns 'I' and 'she' are used frequently in the poem, creating the tense, tight atmosphere of the argument between the two. It also portrays the conflict in the narrator's mind.
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