From this poem, Duffy displays how Miss Hafnium’s desire for everything to be impeccable has caused her into a violent state that glares from within. Miss Having is portrayed as a repulsive vicious character through the multiple references to Medusa, who in Greek mythology is known to be cursed by Athena to be so hideous that her looks can turn any onlookers into stone. From stanza one, the narrator said that Miss Having has ‘dark green pebbles for eyes’. Her dark green eyes are pebble hard and glows just like medusas does according to images. Trembling if I open the wardrobe’ is like the dungeon some mythical stories had of medusa being trapped in a deep underground dungeon because of how revengeful she was for her curse, Athena therefore caging her so that she cannot harm anyone, this showing us the image that Miss Having was too dangerous to allow the doors to open in fear that she might go out and endanger innocent lives since she mentioned getting ‘a male corpse for a long slow honeymoon’ to fulfill her desires.
The word ‘slewed’ suggests the awkward way her appearance must be, or maybe how disgusting her hair or dress has become, perhaps hinting towards how the snakes are twisted on medusas head. Strangle, spinster, stink, corpse and more, these uses of the ‘s’ sounds are very suggestive that Miss Having has become very much like a snake. The usage of sibilance by Duffy reflects a sinister tone to how Miss Having feels, the ‘s’ sound is also symbolic to snakes.
It highly emphasizes the medusa image of having snakes as hair, the intrusive characteristics of poisonous snakes that transmits fear and terror into the audience. Snakes are also quite violent, they catch their prey by biting poison into them with their fangs and swallow them in whole, suggesting Miss Hafnium’s violent intentions to ruin the life of the man who destroyed her life. Duffy displays how violence could be an outcome of her emotional allocations by using lots of contrasts and lots of depletive verbs.
Her contrasts could be very confusing, suggesting that she herself is feeling very confused too. ‘Beloved sweetheart bastard’, this example showcases how she remembers so fondly of him when she said ‘beloved sweetheart’, then she remembers what pain he had bestowed upon her and she calls him a ‘bastard’ out of anger. Duffy said that Miss Having has metaphorical ‘ropes on the back’ of her hands but yet she can still strangle someone, this showing how even though she feels tied down to her spot she will not stop in trying to et vengeance for leaving her a deep scar.
One word I noted was ‘trembling’, this word changes her tone and feeling considering how the word trembling seems more of an action for when someone is extremely upset or uncertain or scared, thus maybe being her second stage of mind processing when Miss Having thinks of him. In a typical wedding, behind the ‘white veil’ is a very nervous and happily loving maiden becoming a wife to a male, however, in this image it is ‘loves hate’ behind the white veil, yet another confusing group of words that might show how conflicted she feels about him.
Then suddenly here is ‘bite awake’ as though she instantly faces the fact that he had left her at the altar and it hit her so hard that she has to bite herself to ensure that it is real. It was then closely followed by ‘bursting in my face’ as though her emotions suddenly cannot be contained and it just bursts in a sudden rage that causes her to ‘stab’ her wedding cake. Usually, the newly wed couple gracefully cuts the cake, however she stabs at the wedding cake, showing her readers how the news of his betrayal came to her.
In a honeymoon, it is supposed to last for a few weeks and it is supposed to be lively and effervescent, yet she asked for a corpse for her ‘long slow honeymoon’ as if she calling out to her lover to finish what he started and go on the honeymoon with her. The last word ‘b-b-b-breaks’ seems like she crying from the rage that she felt but also hints how she might be trying to pick up her personal pieces.
Along with longing for the tragic death of her ‘lover’, Miss Having remembers their intimate moments, probably to fuel her violence and grudge towards him. From ‘dark green pebbles for eyes’ there are two interpretations, one previously mentioned but also Miss Having thinking jack to their past. Dark green is also associated with money and pebbles can be referred to as promiscuous females, combined to show how she used to have so much money and used to be beautiful and attractive.
She also fantasize about their intimate nights where they were pre-occupied with each others company, however she was conscious that the body of the other is long lost, probably making her angry in violence to retrieve him back to her side. She then recounted walking down the aisle but was awoken but ‘a red balloon bursting’ in her face, awakening her from her dreams and ending all further images.