The following sample essay on Carol Ann Duffy discusses it in detail, offering basic facts and pros and cons associated with it. To read the essay’s introduction, body and conclusion, scroll down.
The original story of Beauty and the Beast, teaches its young audience not to judge people by their appearances. Despite how a person may look on the outside, beauty comes from within. Carol Ann Duffy’s dramatic monologue, ‘Mrs Beast’ is a complete contrast to the original fairytale.
The Beast in the original is misunderstood but kind, loving and generous, as he is in Duffy’s version. ‘Belle’on the other hand has transformed from a kind and loving, young girl that views the world with childlike innocence, into an independent, cold hearted, power hungry, sadist.
She introduces herself firstly by comparing her beauty to that of other beautiful and influential women throughout history”… stare into my face -Helen’s face, Cleopatra’s,… Gaze into my eyes -Nefertiti’s, Mona Lisa’s, Garbo’s… ” These are all beautiful women who’s downfalls were caused indirectly, by the actions of the men in their lives.
Mrs Beast continues and tells the reader to”… think again. ” Implying that although she is as beautiful as these women, she is not to be underestimated, she is not like them and will not befall the same fate.
Before the first stanza comes to an end you are already witness to Mrs Beasts resentment towards the male species, she makes a mockery of ‘The Little Mermaid’, who alters herself in order to impress the Prince.
Through the use of alliteration she describes the ordeal of The Mermaids transformation, she ‘slits’ “… her shining, silver tail in two, rubbed salt/ into that stinking wound, got up and walked,” and then despite the agony, stands, puts on a smile and dances for the Prince, only for him to throw her overboard. “they’re bastards when they’re Princes.
The manner in which Duffy presents Mrs Beast makes it obvious that the dark humour, satire and puns shown throughout the poem are intentional and the opinion of Mrs Beast herself, she is that kind of person. Her mockery and references to the ‘stinking’ fishy ‘wound’, the ‘fish’ ‘net’ tights and throwing the mermaid overboard – back to the sea – reflect her amusement at the stupidity of other females. Yet at the same time, she has obviously experienced this situation herself: “I could have told her – look, love, I should know,”
In the second stanza Mrs Beast approaches the House of the Beast, she seems sure of herself – or wants to give that impression – she is independent, knows her own mind and is prepared to leave at the hint of any negative attitude from the Beast. The Beast expresses his gratitude by falling to his knees and kissing her glove “… with his mongrel lips – good” and tears in his eyes, “.. he knew he was blessed – better”. The ending statements show that this pleases her, as does his erection which is the “.. size of a mule’s – best. It is obvious from Mrs Beast reaction to each of his declarations of adoration that it is his erection and her power over him that impresses her most, and seeing as she already has wealth and beauty those are the very reasons that she is here.
Mrs Beast reinforces the imagery of her power in the third stanza. She informs us that she is in charge as she tells the reader “The lady says Do this. Harder. The lady says Do that . Faster. ” The pig in her bed was “invited. ” and if he fouled the sheets “… then, he’d wash them. Twice. Despite the Beasts subservience and his desire to please, Mrs Beast is continuously cruel with the style in which she describes him, and you can imagine that she addresses him in the same manner. She describes him as being “ugly as sin” and seems in some ways repulsed when referring to his breath being that of a goat, “… his horrid leather tongue” scouring between her toes and “… his hooked and yellow claws.. ” Mrs Beasts graphic description is successful in transferring her repulsion to the reader/listener. Why would a strong, independent women choose to set up home with a disgusting Beast of a man?
Mrs Beast reminds you of her reasoning in the final lines of this stanza, the Beast favours that of a well endowed, wild animal in the bedroom: “Here was a bit of him like a horse, a ram/ an ape, a wolf, a dog, a donkey, dragon, dinosaur/ Need I say more? ” Unsurprisingly Mrs Beasts associates are just as strong, independent and successful as she is, and it is obvious through her expressions that she rates herself and these other women highly : “I watched those wonderful women… ” “We were hard school, tough as fuck, all of us beautiful and rich” “Bad girls. Serious ladies. ”
Mrs Beast implies that for every strong, independent women, there will be another that has been negatively affected by mans actions. “.. behind each player stood a line of ghosts/ unable to win. ” Duffy ensures that this hits home by including well known, historical and fictional characters from varying era’s “Eve… Marilyn Monroe… Snow White, Diana Princess of Wales. ” Mrs Beasts Poker nights add a contemporary feel to the poem, and like other poems featured in ‘The Worlds Wife’ draw you back to modern day.
The words and layout used during the Poker game allow you to feel the rising tension in the air during play. Throughout the game the Beast has been completely forgotten, by both Mrs Beast and her listeners, he is unimportant and dismissed from sight and thought unless needed. He ‘sheepishly’ returns to the table in order to deliver drinks. In the final stanza Mrs Beast makes a comment: “.. words for the lost, the captive beautiful, the wives, those less fortunate than we. ” Duffy may be using this sentence in reference to the other wives within the book who were less fortunate.
Mrs Beast is definitely directing her passage at a female audience, when talking to her listeners she refers to them as “.. girls. ” she is instructing female listeners to take heed and listen to her advice “… they’re bastards when they’re Princes. / What you want to do is find yourself a Beast” She implies that good looking guys will treat you badly, whereas the ugly ones are not only better in bed but will also do as they’re told. Mrs Beast rebels against a male dominated society, she doesn’t want to be perceived as the weak female.
She ensures that ‘she’ is the dominate one in all aspects of their relationship. She has successfully maintained her independence and power, yet goes to the extreme and develops the same aggressive male traits that she herself has judged. In order to protect her own insecurities, Mrs Beast has become cold hearted and unfeeling “Let the less loving one be me. ” She treats the Beast this way, not only because he allows her, but because if she loves him less, then she herself cannot be hurt.