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Transcript of Queen Kong
By Carol Ann Duffy
Based on King Kong the story of a colossal gorilla, considered to be the eighth wonder of the world. Who was considered powerful and frightening, yet showed human traits such as loneliness. Queen Kong challenges the stereotypical damsel in distress through gender role reversal demonstrating the independence and power if women.
The poem is written as a stream of reminiscent consciousness, “I remember” describing her emotional turmoil and her strength and courage, which contrasts her huge appearance. Yet she is able to show her affection to “her man” through size and dominance, with her careful action she “scooped him up” protecting him and bringing him closer to herself.
In the first few stanzas the poem leads you to believe that Queen Kong, is in fact a human as opposed to a colossal gorilla as she looks through an apartment window in the city. Although she is an enormous terrifying animal, she shows love, affection and passion for a male human. Her delicate and devoted nature is a complete contrast to her appearance, which would suggest that like the original King Kong she would be violent and aggressive.
Queen Kong uses the power shift from male to female to show how despite popular belief, women often have control over men. This is reinforced when Queen Kong states how he is “my (her) little man,” which reveals her affection towards the man but also significantly displays his physical inferiority and her obvious authority. The use of the possessive pronoun “my” again possibly reveals her care for the man but also possibly signifies her ownership of the man and thus shows how she is control.
Duffy’s use of humour is also apparent throughout this poem. This is evident when the people in the village do not hear because they are “used to strangers”-The image of a gorilla walking the streets and no one noticing is completely absurd. There is a further element of humour when Queen Kong states how she is “especially fond of pastrami on rye”. This comic effect is also conveyed in stanza 7 when Queen Kong states “I was discreet, prowled those streets in darkness”. Additionally the notion of her going shopping without anyone noticing adds to the absurdity of the idea and the image of a huge gorilla walking through a shop adds to comical effect Duffy is trying to create. The setting of the poem also reflects the relationship as there is a clash of worlds between man and gorilla and the natural and man-made worlds that they live in - “concrete rainforest.”
The animalistic instincts and desires of Queen Kong are notable on several occasions in the poem. She “peel[ed] him” like a banana an ape like behaviour as she peels him as she would a banana. “The long nights in the heat” reveal her physical reaction and emphasises her animalistic behaviour in that it is her natural instinct to mate. The way Queen Kong explicitly reveals how she “put the tip of (her) tongue to the grape of his flesh” again emphasises her animalistic behaviour with the alliteration stressing how they went straight to having sex. This accentuates the idea that it was lust and not romance that brought them to have sex. – Queen Kong just using the man to satisfy her own desires –control that she has over him which reinforces her superiority she has and the role reversal where typically the man would have the authority and initiate the relationship.
The control and superiority of Queen Kong is again apparent in stanza 9 “I picked him up like a chocolate from the top layer” – whilst the simile portrays the man as desirable and metaphorically tasty, ultimately he has no control. This concept is developed when Queen Kong refers to the helicopters as “dragonflies”. This metaphor reveals the extent of her power and physicality. Moreover, it can be connected to the threat made earlier on in the poem that she “could swat his plane from the sky like a gnat”- effective in disclosing her control and how he is physically inferior. –shift of power from male to female- male’s often use their physical strength as a threat and in that way are normally superior to women.
Carol Ann Duffy combines wit and compassion with powerfully emotive language to help portray some difficult topical and controversial issues. In dramatizing scenes from childhood, to adult life she discovers moments of consolation through love, memory and loss and as a strong feminist aims to challenge society’s stereotypes, especially within gender roles.