Stealing- Carol Ann Duffy
“Show how the poet explores the themes of Isolation and loneliness, and to what extent your appreciation of the theme was deepened by the poet’s treatment? ” Stealing is one of the many Carol Ann Duffy poems in which the themes of isolation and loneliness are explored. The poem is about a person who has nothing to live for, because of this they have fallen into a life of stealing items that are worthless and have no sentimental meaning to them, the thief steals simply because they and get a thrill out of doing so (this particular poem is about the stealing of a snowman).
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The character finds it amusing to steal peoples’ belongings that have a creative aspect to them like: a guitar, a “bust of Shakespeare” a camera and a snowman. The poem was composed in the 1980’s, which were a time of unemployment and depression for England and also a time of technological advancement this could be the motivation behind the unusual things that are being stolen. However the belongings do not have significant value. Duffy’s treatment that she presents in Stealing also helped to deepen my appreciation for the poem.
Her use of tone, imagery and diction that occurs in the poem all help to convey the themes to the audience more thoroughly and make them more apparent and therefor helping one to appreciate and understand the true themes of the poem. The exploration of the themes loneliness and isolation are portrayed in Stealing through a number of different ways, one in which is through the use of imagery. Imagery is a key element to the poem and is conveyed in an assorted of unique ways. In the third stanza the metaphor “I’m a mucky ghost” is used suggesting that the character has been separated from humanity and is possibly even dead to society.
The use of the word mucky evokes that he leaves a mess behind him and is uncaring for other people and their property indicating that he does not have any friends or family that would suffer from him participating in these high- risk behaviours and getting caught and prosecuted. Duffy’s personal treatment that she has developed in the poem has deepened my understanding because the way that she uses imagery is unique and relates to every- day life. The tone that Duffy uses in Stealing plays an important role in my appreciation of the themes in Stealing.
This is because the tone that the poem creates shows me that the Duffy was trying to say and how the audience perceives it. The tone changes throughout Stealing, this is because it is written as someone would talk and as you know the tone without a conversation changes depending on what is being said. When it says, “flogged it” the tone is angry the use of the harsh word flogged is affective in getting the theme of loneliness across because when you are lonely you can get angry because there is no one there to help you or talk to you about how you feel and how to get over being angry.
A change in the tone is when in the second stanza you read “Part of the trill was knowing/ that children would cry in the morning. ” The tone at this part of the poem is satisfaction; the character enjoys knowing that he has made children unhappy. These specific words and phrases that Duffy has used have helped me deepen my understanding of the themes because they are associated and link to the themes generally quite directly. Lastly the diction in Stealing is all very simple and easy to comprehend. This could suggest that the character was not an educated person.
Because the poem was set in the 1980’s, which for England were a time of depression, and unemployment it would be easy to believe that the subject of the poem was not an educated man, this could also be a reason as to why he is isolated and lonely which is conveyed through the themes. The most sophisticated word used is “magnificent”; coincidently it is also the only positive word as well. This suggests that if you are a well-educated person you can be happy because you have opportunities. The single syllabled words like; “ton”, “gut”, “tough” are all simplistic words that represent the struggles of the thief’s every day life.
Duffy’s use of these words also helps me understand the themes of loneliness and isolation because they are never being expressed to a particular person or someone that seems to be cared about. Duffy explores the themes of isolation and loneliness through her use of imagery, tone and diction. The way that she expresses her character in the poem is magnificent and the creativeness of the imagery is useful in helping me gain a deeper understanding of the themes, the ever- changing tone and simple diction also help me to engage and successfully gain a deeper understanding of the main themes of loneliness and isolation.