Carol Ann Duffy Challenges Traditional Gender Roles

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Carol Ann Duffy challenges traditional gender roles through the power portrayed of women who are in a relationship and by reinventing a classic fairytale. In the classic fairy tale of beauty and the beast we see belle, the female lead, as someone who loves to talk and stay with animals, we see her constantly relying on animals to help her out or just stay by her side as true friends. Meanwhile, in Carol Ann Duffy’s poem, we see Mrs. Beast as someone who uses animals as a form of insulting someone. As seen in line 36-37 the quote “the pig in my bed was invited” the way Duffy uses the animal pig, which is normally associated with filth and dirt, in this case, was used to describe the beast as filthy and dirty and having an inferior status compared to Mrs. Beast. We can also see how dominant Mrs. Beast is as the beast is told what to do, or when to enter the room in his own house. As we all know that, in the real story Belle is kept captive in the Beast’s house she is told what to do where to stay and how to behave, however, this clearly shows how the Beast is being kept under Mrs. beast’s power (in his own house) which is in contrast to the original story. The effect on the reader is the comparison of the traits in the two different characters: belle being someone who loved animals and showed how important animals are in our lives, whereas we see Mrs. beast using animals as a form of insulting the beast showing that he is inferior just like animals.

The traditional gender roles are challenged through power again when we look at Duffy’s poem where we see that Mrs. beast being a woman had all the power as she got the things she wanted done, whenever and however she wanted. This can be seen in line 42, in the quote “if I wanted to” and in line 91 “bring me the beast for the night”. The first quote clearly shows how only if Mrs. Beast wanted something only then it could be done, this clearly shows the authority of a woman over the man which challenges the traditional role of a woman, who normally would do as the man would say. Along with this, in line 91 it shows the authority she had over the beast in his own house as she said to “bring” the beast as if he were some object and only when she wanted him, for her own pleasure, she would use him then throw him away and reuse him when needed. This can be known as objectifying a person which is strange as it was not normal and still may not be depending on the audience. To the reader, this can show and inferior status the beast had compared to Mrs. Beast. this is the complete opposite of the original story of Beauty and the Beast.

Through certain actions shown in the poem of Mrs. Beast, we can see the female lead participating in certain activities in, which we would normally visualize men taking part in. In line 42 the quote “on my poker nights”, when any reader thinks of the word poker, we all tend to visualize men drinking beer and whiskey gambling with money, while the women are getting food ready for the men and the women normally being used as entertainment for the men as well. In this case, we are being told that the women have gone to gamble, and drink together, not only does this show the ‘wrong’ behavior of typical women to certain audiences, but also shows how, while they are having fun “the sheepish beast came in with a tray of schnapps”. Firstly, from this quote we see the word “sheepish”, which again shows the insulting words which are linked to animals, along with this it shows how timidly (‘sheepish’) the beast came to hand out food, this is again the role of a typical woman. To the reader, this may show how the personalities of the beast are like a typical woman shy and obedient, whereas Mrs. Beast is taking part and behaving like a typical man. In Duffy’s poem of Mrs. Beast, we see the beast doing all the housework, which is not seen as typical manly behavior.

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Carol Ann Duffy Challenges Traditional Gender Roles. (2020, November 26). WritingBros. Retrieved February 22, 2024, from
“Carol Ann Duffy Challenges Traditional Gender Roles.” WritingBros, 26 Nov. 2020,
Carol Ann Duffy Challenges Traditional Gender Roles. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 Feb. 2024].
Carol Ann Duffy Challenges Traditional Gender Roles [Internet]. WritingBros. 2020 Nov 26 [cited 2024 Feb 22]. Available from:
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