'Before You Were Mine' - revision of language evaluation skills.
Hopefully, you know 'Before You Were Mine' well enough by now to be able to evaluate Duffy's choices of language in the poem. Remember, evaluating language is actually quite simple if you break it down into these two points:
What attitudes are expressed by the poet through this language choice?
What effect does this word have on you, the reader?
When we break up our language evaluation into these two points, it is easier to get into the nitty gritty of word choice. It also helps to evaluate language by putting ourselves in the speaker of the poem's shoes. Why does the poet use specific words and what is the effect of these words?
Here's an example of language evaluation to get you going. Don't worry, you won't have to do anything as long as this in the exercise:
In the first stanza, Duffy writes that her mother and her friends '"shriek at the pavement". The verb "shriek" emphasises the mother's carefree past with her friends. This suggests that Duffy's mother feels comfortable laughing loud enough to call attention to herself. This links to the last stanza, where Duffy says she wants the "bold girl winking in Portobello". The use of the adjective "bold" builds Duffy's mother as someone who was confident. The effects of the words "shriek" and 'bold' are that they present the mother as someone who was once boisterous, loud and carefree.
You should always refer to your own text when working through these examples. These quotations are for reference only.