The”Worlds Wife” is an assemblage of poems written by the poet Carol Ann Duffy.The collection was first published in 1999. The poet uses intertextuality toembed fables and fairy tales in her work. For the poem ‘Little Red cap’heterosexual relationships are shown to be harmful to women and demoralising tothem.
Duffy utilises the poem to be able to express the repercussions ofexperiencing a heterosexual relationship. As well as illustrating a man’sperspective of a woman and of their significance to them. The text furtherexpresses that heterosexual relationships are purely negative through the heavysexual imagery of the wolf. Duffyhas portrayed heterosexual relationships to be negative in “The Worlds Wife”,this is suggested by older men taking advantage of women. “The wolf, I knew,would lead me deep into the woods” the wolf leading red cap connotes of an existingpatriarchal society developing the idea that men are in a stronger position ofpower in terms of gender. However, it does not confirm that the wolf is incomplete control of red cap. It can be considered it is red cap’s own decisionto follow the wolf into his lair.
This could be viewed as Duffy empowering redcap from a feminist perspective. Although this is an antithesis for the expectationsfor women to obey and follow men’s wishes in a patriarchal society. The poem isset within in a period in which the stereotype for women is still existing.Women are meant to be controlled by men and expected to fulfil theirstereotypical roles. The lexis “deep” depicts the foreshadowing of the sexualimagery that is going to occur further. “woods” could be portrayed as theunknown which red cap is yet to understand and the consequences of herdecisions. Duffy presents heterosexuality in ‘Little Red Cap’ as a dangerouspath for women, presented by the wolfs past successes of luring women to hislair only to be sexually deprived.
Men areillustrated to be preying on younger women’s desires and divulges repressedfeelings of being in a heterosexual relationship. The wolf takes advantage ofred cap’s erotic excitement, with this it also reveals how the wolf was capableto lure in his past victims to sate himself. Exploiting the weaknesses of awoman, a female living in a patriarchal society, the wolf is able to continuethriving in a patriarchal society of being a man using sexual pleasure as asource. In Duffy’s other poems such as ‘Mrs Lazarus’, the wife is determined tohold onto the memories of her late husband. “one empty glove, white femur inthe dust, half.” When memories of her husband begin to fleet from her, shecomes to the revelation, by continuing to grasp the past she only causesherself to suffer further. The poet suggests that heterosexual relationshipshold only pain and misery.
Through this kind of relationship, attachments andsentimentality is established thus when it comes to an inevitable end thehistory of the relationship becomes meaningless only inflicting only moresuffering. Thedepiction of heterosexual relationships being “purely negative” is furtherexplored by the enticement of women by men utilising the method of seduction.”breath of the wolf in my ear, the love poem” this illustrates the wolfs malepresence is being strengthened by his influence over red cap.
The “breath” ofthe wolf demonstrates how he is able to seduce red cap, the lexis also could beinterpreted as how simple it was for the wolf to achieve his intentions. Alternatively,this could be interpreted to have a darker meaning, “the love poem” may beproposing sexual imperatives instead. ‘Little Red Cap’ is based in a maledominated society putting forth the idea that men are not restricted by whatthey wish to do with a woman. The wolf’s preference to seduce women rather thanto understand who they are illustrates the ignorance of men who are inheterosexual relationships.
The lovepoem is used to indicate the sexual colloquial language that is occurringbetween the two. Alternatively, it may just be red cap’s own decision to bewooed by the wolf surrendering to her own desires which has already beexploited by the wolf. In the poem ‘Salome’, similarlyit portrays men wanting to woo Salome she inevitably kills. “I’d done it before(and doubtless I’ll do it again, sooner or later)” This can imply thatheterosexual relationships are deemed to cause agony.
Within ‘Salome’ men are exposed to this by being physically afflicted as aresult for attempting to be in a heterosexual relationship with Salome. Thisadds to the idea that heterosexual relationships are only negative in the text,portrayed also by the limitations that are placed on a woman in a patriarchalsociety. In’Little Red Cap’ women are viewed as trophies;therefore men are portrayed to be objectifying the qualities of women. “awhole wall was crimson, gold, aglow with books” thisline uses colour imagery to connote of red cap’s materialistic desires.Thebooks seen by red cap represents the wolfs trophies and achievements he hascollected over time. The quantity of books which cover the surface of the wallcould be suggesting that the wolf has exhausted his space on the wall to addany other books to his collection. The books could symbolise the virginities ofwomen that he has consumed over the years and is passively implied that no oneshould be ‘owned’ in a relationship.
Red cap symbolises the end for the wolfand cannot be included to his trophies, because of this it demonstrates thatheterosexual relationships inevitably has to come to an end for the woman to becleansed of the sins that has been partaken in. From the perspective of redcap, she could be viewed as the saviour who is tasked to remove the source thatis polluting heterosexual relationships. Duffy highlights the wolf as anexample and the kind of morals to be the root of the issue which is poisoningheterosexual relationships. From a feminist view point red cap goes to thelength of killing the wolf herself, invigorating her female role in the poem.
Although in the fairy-tale, it is the woodcutter who kills the wolf. The damselin distress element has been removed as well as the male hero. In ‘MrsAesop’, she makes it known of Mr Aesop’s ignorance ofhis wife and that he fails to acknowledge the presence of his wife. “about amile further on, a tortoise, somebody’s pet” This continues the motif thatwomen are inferior to men, and the further Duffy gets in the time settings thisis still prevailing. Duffy persists on the concept in ‘Little Red Cap” thatheterosexuality shouldn’t be valued and rather to be scorned at because of howdamaging it is to people, especially women.
Heterosexual relationships areshown to be morally negative. ‘LittleRed Cap’ enables readers to recognise the strong sexualthemes that are present to identify heterosexual relationships’ issues. Fromthe poem we can connote that Duffy has written ‘Little Red Cap’ purely from a feministic perspective to reveal that itmainly has a negative impact on women. Therefore, it can be gathered from theportrayal of the wolf, men are not to be trusted and beinvolved with in a heterosexual relationship.
It further suggests in the poemthat men are the source for the corruption of heterosexual relationships andthat it is in need to be cleansed. It connotes that heterosexual relationships havebeen tainted by the ways of men and that it must be corrected to its true ways.Duffy implies that heterosexual relationships are only purely negative becauseof how it has been represented by men so far, the unfair and unjust treatmentof women, it is depicted in the text that a heterosexual relationship brings aharmful and destructive end to those that are in one causing sorrow or grief tothem.