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The Intertextuality of Carol Ann Duffy’s “Salome”

“Salome” is a poem taken from Carol Ann Duffy’s collection of poems The World’s Wife most of the poems share a widespread feature: a historically marginalized narrator retelling the story from personal viewpoint. Salome’s character initially appeared in the New Testament and over the centuries numerous novels and paintings focused on Salome and the legend of Salome contributing to iconization of the character as a vicious femme fatale. 1 of the texts that followed the biblical story of Salome is a fin-de-siecle play written by Oscar Wilde. This play may have even had a larger influence in the creation of Carol Ann Duffy’s poem “Salome”, than the original story. Such an influence is recommended by the intertextual connection amongst the two texts established by means of characterization and juxtaposition of tone and rhyme. In Wilde’s play, symbolism contributes most to Salome’s characterization. Throughout the play the moon can be perceived as a metaphor alluding to the primary character. In the opening scene it is depicted by the Web page of Herodias “like a woman rising from a tomb,” “like a dead woman… seeking for dead things”. Later on in the play Salome herself reflects on the state of the moon as if reflecting on herself “cold and chaste,” “she has in no way defiled herself … never ever abandoned herself to men.” These allusions to the moon add to the premonition of despair and to Salome’s portrait. The moon’s metaphoric presence indirectly depicts Salome as a frigid, haughty and adamant. Though at the end of the play Salome demonstrates emotional intentions to her actions, it is a sick perception of enjoy where the major motives are selfish and obsessive. Salome as a narrator in Carol Ann Duffy’s poem bears robust resemblance with the depiction of the character in the play. In the type of a internal dramatic monologue the poem gives exhibits the thoughts of the heroine generating a dimensional and complicated portrayal. The poem indicates such attributes of the character as narcissism, indifference and perversion. The reader gets a strong self-reflection from the character in the lines “the beater or biter, who’d come like a lamb to the slaughter to Salome’s bed”, which somewhat resembles Salome’s self-identification in the play: denoting that even the bad characters seem holy in comparison with her. There are important quotations in the poem that indicate Salome’s coldness of heart and indifference to other people, when she wakes with a head subsequent to her, but she doesn’t know who it is noticed in the lines “-whose?- what did it matter?” and “What was his name?” Additionally taking into account the lack of empathy that Salome demonstrates in the lines “from pain, I’d guess, perhaps from laughter”. This line might be interpreted as an indication of Salome’s disability to discern between the human emotions. In spite of the portrayal of a disturbed and emotionally drained character, the line “ain’t life a bitch” could suggest that Salome herself is familiar with the struggles of life, which could potentially justify her vengeful and cruel behavior. Alternatively “ain’t life a bitch” may be a sarcastic exclamation, noticed as is Salome is in a position of power over the victim and is enjoying life. Either way Carol Ann Duffy succeeds in making a complex, dimensional character in her poem as well as Oscar Wild in the play. The structure of the play emphasizes Salome’s irrational behavior by delivering paradoxical partnership amongst the content material and the tone. The light, musical tone of the play contradicts the actions of the character accentuating Salome’s inconsistent emotions. This makes a morally difficult story. Duffy borrows this element of the play effectively making use of the structure of cost-free verse and the rhyme to provide gentle construct up via the poem despite the fact that the content insinuates murderous notions of events. The rhyme in the poem is most dynamic in the second stanza, maybe phonetically implying the sound of dripping blood the phonetic impact in combination with the descriptions from the 1st stanza “head on a pillow” with “dark hair, rather matted” may possibly conjure up an image of a severed head. By means of the rhyme in such words as “butter” and “clatter” and “clutter” the poet creates a light musical overtone attractive to the reader’s auditory sense. The structure is really ironic as it combines the structure of a sonnet on the surface and the descriptions of the disturbing actions of a femme fatale. The functions of Carol Ann Duffy and Oscar Wilde put Salome in the epicenter of the events taking place, whereas original story in the New Testament provides small to no credit to Salome in John’s beheading. The New Testament focuses largely on John the Baptizer, Herod and Herodias. When given an chance to request anything of Herod’s, Salome runs to her mother and enquires, “What need to I ask for?” declining to make her own option and establishing her mothers power and absolute rule. In the New Testament Salome is noticed as only a “girl” initially with no even a name, she seems much younger in the original function than in the subsequent recreations. She acts totally on the behalf of her mother with out regard for private wishes. The lack of private motive behind tends to make Salome bleak and insignificant in the original story. Carol Ann Duffy borrowed the character from the original bible story in a really idiosyncratic way. Duffy took the character with the least energy and lack of opinion and gave her a voice. In the poem “Salome” is seen as an independent character, which can be noticed through the chosen type of an internal dramatic monologue. An abundance of initial face singular pronouns followed by action verbs (for example “I’ll do it again”, “I needed” and “I flung”) highlight the character’s dominant presence. Therefore, Carol Ann Duffy recreates the original story of John the Baptizer, crafting it into the story of Salome. Duffy provides strength and independence to Salome, inspired by Oscar Wilde’s vision. The impact of intertextuality allows a complicated depiction of Salome, which furthermore challenges the reader to interpret and/or recognize her motifs and internal feelings.

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