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Queen Kong, Carol Ann Duffy

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Alyssa Martin

on 7 July 2015

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Transcript of Queen Kong, Carol Ann Duffy

Context
Queen Kong is based on the story of 'King Kong', a colossal gorilla. The character was considered powerful and frightening but also showed human traits such as loneliness.
Queen Kong challenges the stereotypical male role, demonstrating the clear independence and power of women rather than man.
Like 'King Kong', in the poem 'Queen Kong' demonstrates herself to be strong and huge in power, yet also has human traits such as loneliness again: "i feel so lonely"
"My little man"
The word "My" shows the narrators possessive nature over 'her man'.
By referring to him as her own, she objectifies him.
"scooped him up in my palm and held his wriggling, shouting life till he calmed"
"scooped him up" gives the impression that she is the dominant figure: the female picking up the man off the ground instead of the stereotypical man caring for a women. This goes against typical stereotyping, with the dominant male caring for the overwhelmed female, portraying women as strong, yet still nurturing, "till he calmed", figures.
"follow him then to the ends of the earth"
This quote shows another side of the female narrator. The idea of following a man to the ends of the earth is a romantic cliche, which shows the females clear devotion to this male character.
Structure
The poem is set out in 11, 7 line stanzas. When reading the poem this gives the effect that the narrator is speaking at a regular speed, making it seem like the poem is speaking to you directly.
Queen Kong, Carol ann duffy
Like the overall structure, implying that the speaker is talking to the reader, the rhyme scheme also takes this approach; in the poem there is in fact no rhyme, making it seem more natural and speech-like.
The majority of the lines in the poem contain caesuras, this creates natural pauses, again re-emphasizing the speech-like nature of the poem.
"little man" seems patronizing, like she's demeaning her male companion, as he is smaller than her, therefore beneath her greatness.
In regards to the feminist critical literary perspective, the narrator is in fact taking feminism too far through the fact that she is not treating men and women as equal; she portrays women as being greater than men, through demeaning the male nature.
As the frog (man) climbs into the females hand, it reciprocates the behaviour of the male showing mercy to the power of the female, through her largely dominant nature.
This, I believe goes beyond feminism through that the male is treated as inferior to the superior female, so are not actually equal. However the female narrator is empowered and in control.
"He'd climb into my open hand."
"But I let him go, my man. I watched him fly into the sun as I thumped at my breast, distraught."
This romantic cliche goes against feminism, through that females are supposed to honour themselves and not require or need a males constant attention. Therefore, by "following" a man, you are thereby breaking the rules of feminism, as males still hold a certain dominance.
1
2
3
4
5
At the end of the fifth stanza, the female narrator uses her physical power to emphasize her emotions; the word "distraught" displays these heightened emotions.
6
"I decided to get him back"
This line concludes the sixth stanza. The gorilla, or animals in general, are usually perceived as emotionless, and simply aggressive. However, by saying she wants to "get him back", goes against this idea of having no emotion.
The woman is being portrayed as strong and powerful, driven by being "lovesick" from the loss of her man: "Prowled those streets in darkness." In terms of the feminist literary critical perspective, this is contradictory. Firstly, it could imply that a woman needs a man, prowling the New York skyline to being lovesick; however, "in darkness" suggests that the woman is not afraid and will go to any lengths to get what she wants, hence showing power.
Stanza 7
8
"I found him, of course"
A feminist would say that the message from this is to never underestimate a woman. "Of course", makes it seem like it was obvious that the woman would find her tiny male friend, when it is actually very unrealistic. This could show a sense of power from the woman that could be considered controlling.
She allows herself to notice he admires her, almost worships her, which causes her to briefly show emotion: "My big brown eyes grew moist."
"He was mine." Shows a lot of dominance of a woman which is allowed under the feminist literary critical perspective, but if it were a man, the effect would be the opposite: that male dominance is wrong but a woman is allowed to dominate a male.
Caroline Duffy still shows women in a stereotypical way as after she has fixed her heart ache, she goes clothes shopping.

9
"I picked him"
This line suggests that he had no choice, especially with the comparison of "a chocolate from the top layer of a box." Again, Duffy reinforces the idea of women having power over men, which is becoming more and more accepted as the third wave of feminism continues.
'Queen Kong' shows her power when she lets him "dangle", which makes him seem very vulnerable to her ways.
Duffy adds, "in a teasing, lover's way" to make it seem as though she only made him 'dangle' for his affection; although the reader may see this as a show of strength.
10
"Twelve happy years"
This is one of the only sentences within the poem that is not dominated by gender equality or inequality. It shows contentment and well being of the two characters, despite the dominance in the relationship beforehand in the poem.
Soon after this however, "[He] woke early to massage the heavy lids of my eyes." This shows the male as very passive, perhaps weak, almost as if he is her personal slave.
In stanza 10, 'Queen Kong' tells us what he did do for her, whereas she says what he 'liked' her to do, not what she did do. This could imply that she was more dominant and often got what she wanted. Since it's only from her perspective, we cannot tell how her man is feeling, as he may feel pressured to keep her happy, or afraid of her because she is a lot bigger than him.
11
It seems that the only time the male character in the poem is portrayed positively, is when he is dead: "perfect" "tiny emeralds for eyes. No man has been loved more." I think this is inaccurate because her love seems to be forced onto him.
She used him to massage her eyelids and play sweet songs in her ears, but not once before did she say how much she loved him, though his love was prominent throughout.
Feminist Critical Literary Perspective
In a question of which character is the most dominant in this poem: the female. The woman is dominant throughout the entire poem. The female only exclaims how much she loves him or how perfect he is when there's something for her. In the first instance: "For me, it was absolutely love a first sight" followed by "I was
lonely
" as if this justifies why she loves him. At one point she points out he is "perfectly formed and
gorgeous
" but then went on to say how she would prefer him to a gorilla because of the "sweet finesse" of what he was able to do. In terms of the feminist literary critical perspective, Duffy does champion the female identity by making them more powerful than man, except this is also a contradiction of feminism as it's meant to be about genders being equal, NOT superior to each other. Duffy does challenge male superiority as she makes the woman more powerful. The idea that writers, (men in particular), misrepresent how a woman should be portrayed is both true and false. Women are portrayed how they're seen in society, or to challenge how they're seen in society; this happens with both male and female writers as they try to create the 'perfect female', and stereotypically, the perfect female would be a housewife and mother, but others think the perfect female should be dominant and powerful.
"Didn't he know I could swat his plane from these skies like a gnat?"
This could show the control of the woman; she expects the man to think that she is more powerful than him. "Didn't he know" suggests that he should have known from the dominant sort of relationship already shown.
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