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Transcript of Disgrace
Themes & Tone
When reading this poem we instanstly knew it was evolved around the theme of a broken relationship. This is shown through an extended metaphor of the house which the speaker is using, to represent the relationship. Throughout the poem Duffy uses a sombre tone to convey her bordeom and dissapointment in the life that she has chosen to lead. The line "Each nursing, a thickening cyst of dust and gloom" can portray many ideas. The verb 'nursing' could relate to growing old and unhealthyness. This could also imply the couples relationship is unhealthy. Another theme is the passing of time and the effect time has on a relationship.
There is 8 quatrains creating a repetitive pattern. This could symbolise and reflect the fact that there is no change or improvement in their relationship and that it now feels like a routine instead of 'true love'. There is enjambement throughout the poem. Some lines carry on into another stanza, e.g. "nothing we would not do to make it worse
and worse." This implies that the speaker is fed up with their life, nothing is changing. The speakers lifestyle is becoming boring and repitive due to the breakdown of the relationship. There is no excitement any more due to the relationship being frowned upon.
The short, simple sentence in the fourth stanza, "Woke." shows the speakers sudden realisation that the relationship is over. It could also represent a dream-like, surreal state or nightmare. Showing the speaker's fear of reality and truth. The verb 'Woke' is repeated throughout the whole poem, symbolising possibly that the speaker is in a recurring and repetitive nightmare. The speaker is trapped in her nightmare.
The meaning of the title 'Disgrace' is the loss of repuatation as a result of a dishonourable action. Or 'to disgrace' is to bring shame or discredit on family/somebody. With the theme of the poem being a 'broken relationship' the title could have the religious connotations of the couple not being approved of. Perhaps the couple are not "meant to be together" because of religious views or their sexuality. It could be a homosexual relationship which could be frowned upon within their religion. The speaker seems to have lost her good reputation through being with her partner. This is perhaps why the speaker is unhappy with their life and seems to be full of regret.
We do not think the poet Duffy is speaking we think Duffy has created a hopeless woman who is part of a unacceptable relationship and is displaying her frustration and hopelessness over time. There are two characters in the poem, the speaker and her partner who are clearly both unhappy. The constant use of personal pronouns such as 'we' and 'our' display the couples joint opinions and common feelings.
"Waving and pointing, the shadows of hands huge in the bedroom"
"A thickening cyst of dust and gloom."
The pre-modifier 'thickening' symbolises the passing of time and that the relationship has been crumbling over a long period. The noun 'cyst' represents the idea that the relationship has become hollow and disgusting. Perhaps even the speaker herself is disgraced by their relationship and wants to move on. A cyst is an abnormality that should not be there which may reflect the feeling of unease and the speakers own understanding that they shouldn't be together.
The speaker personifies the house and uses it as an extended metaphor for their relationship. Post-modifiers, e.g. 'dust' and 'gloom' mirror the mood of the couples relationship and feelings towards one another. The verb 'thickening' suggests that their hatrid for each other is growing stronger over time. The speaker describes herself and her partner, through symbolism, as "dead flies in a web". This could suggest they are trapped and there's no escape. Also, the ideas with a fly being trapped in a web is that it is the spiders prey and it has no hope. It is going to be over-ruled by the more powerful, representing the people/family who are disgraced by their relationship bringing it to an end. Also, their relatioship could be swallowing them up, draining them mentally and physically.
"We had not been home in our hearts for months"
'Home' symbolises 'warmth', 'comfort' and 'happiness'. The fact that neither of the two feel at home in their relationship suggests that neither of them are happy or comforatble anymore. This also suggests that they haven't been themselves and feel different to when they first got together. 'For months' again suggests the passing of time and this feeling has been long term and has been draining the speaker for quite some time; leaving her feeling in a state of depression. 'In our hearts' suggests they both know deep down that their relationship is unhealthy yet they are putting on a cover and still trying to carry on "normally".
Images of 'Death'
'Corpse' and 'Deaths' this dark imagery could represent and link to the 'death' of their relationship and its breakdown and the extent of suffering of the people if it is being linked to something as dark as 'death'. 'Nothing we would not do to make it worse' - the situation has got as bad as it possibly can and 'nothing' could make it worse. 'Pine' (verb) definition- suffer a mental and physical decline, especially because of a broken heart. This vocab being used shows the state of mind of the person in the poem.
"But one day we woke to our disgrace"
The noun 'disgrace' again reflects the idea of the couples relationship being frowned upon, and the personal pronoun 'our' explains the idea that the speaker herself realises that their relationship is dishonorable. 'Our disgrace' is the idea that they have both lost respect from others and have lost their reputation. It again symbolises the idea that the relationship is not unreciprocal and that they both feel the same way about each other. Neither of them are happy anymore. 'One day' gives the idea that it happened suddenly and the love disappeared abrubtly. It is not as if their love faded away.
"Cherished italics suddenly sour on our tounges, obscenities spraying themselves on the wall in my head"
'Obscenities' suggests foul words and language. The adjective 'sour' suggests something disgusting and distasteful. It also reflects a feeling of resentment and disappointment. The verb 'spraying' in the metaphor indicates quite a wild and violent tone. The spray on 'the wall in her head' so they are obscenities spoken in her head which her partner cannot hear. She is clearly uttering hateful things to herself about her partner uncontrollabaly
"Woke to your clothes like a corpse on the floor"
This similie suggests that she feel almost as if her partner is dead to her. It has sexual connotations.
"And our garden bowing its head"
Metaphor- ashamed of their relationship and that they have let down their loved ones. "Vunerable Flowers"- symbolises 'young love'- niave and their relationship is seen as a silly "phase". "We shouted in silhouette"- their identity has been taken.. people only focus on the DISGRACE of their relationship.