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Queen Herod - Carol Ann Duffy

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Natasha East

on 5 July 2013

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Transcript of Queen Herod - Carol Ann Duffy

Queen Herod
Historical Context
Herod was appointed King of Judea by the Romans in 37BC.
During his rule, he earned the title 'Herod the Great' thanks to the building of fortresses, aqueducts and ampitheatres.
He is most famous for the Massacre of the Innocents in which he had many infants killed who could grow up to threaten his power.
It is thought that his downfall came from his possessive love for his wife, Mariamme.
Plot
The poem begins with the arrival of the Three Queens who want food and shelter for the night in exchange for rich gifts for the King and Queen.
Herod falls asleep drunk and the Queens ask to see Queen Herod's daughter. In this meeting they bestow gifts on her.
They also tell of news of a new baby boy whose arrival will be told by a bright star. This worries Queen Herod who sees this new child as a threat to her daughter's happiness.
Therefore, she decides to have every son killed within the kingdom so that no man will ever break her daughter's heart.
Queen Herod sums up by saying that mothers are always trying to protect their children and this is her reason for murder
Important Quotes
'Three Queens at the Palace gates'
This poem explores female dominance and power and this phrase shows this. Instead of the magi being Kings they are Queens which shows that the dominant power in the poem is the female.
'The Husband. Hero. Hunk... Mr Right.'
This section shows all the cliche's that relate to the male gender,. Duffy includes these. to create a fully rounded view of teh people who could break the queens daughters heart.
'Some swaggering lad to break her heart... nowt in gold'
This phrase describes Queen Herod's worries about the future.
Gold ring.
'Orion to the south who knew the score, who'd seen, not seen then seen it all before'
Broken hearts
Feminist theme.
Activity
Find quotations in the poem which relate to these themes:
Maternal Love
Protection
Female power
Male arrogance
Bibliography
http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/history/herod.shtml

'Silver and gold.... said Happiness; then stared at me'
This phrase refers to money and shows the value of the child to her mother. It also relate to later in the when Queen Herod talks of her daughter marrying. The reference shows her monetary value as well as her sentimental one. The Queens also bestow her gifts which will increase her value in other's eyes as they are esteemed qualities
'A peacock screamed outside'
The main theme of this poem is maternal love and the peacock shows that this is an infinite state as the peacock symbolizes immortality.
'Take men and horses... Do it. Spare not one.'
Queen Herod's orders.
Ruthlessness/ protectiveness.
'We do our best, we Queens, we mothers, mothers of Queens... Behind our lullabies, the hooves of terrible horses thunder and drum.'
Maternal love.
Ruthlessness.
Full transcript