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Carol Ann Duffy: Mean Time

31. Havisham

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About this Lecture


In this module, we read through the thirtieth poem in the collection, 'Havisham', focusing in particular on: (i) the character of Miss Havisham from Dickens' 'Great Expectations'; (ii) the dramatic monologue as a poetic form; (iii) the line "puce curses that are sounds not words"; (iv) the balance between love and hate ("Beloved sweetheart bastard", "Love's hate behind a white veil"); and (v) the poem's final line, a recurrence (once again) of the theme of stammering and stuttering.


In this course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Carol Ann Duffy’s 1993 collection, ‘Mean Time'. After an introductory module in which we think about the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy in general and the collection as a whole – and especially the implications of its title – the course continues with a reading and analysis of each of the thirty-nine poems in the collection, one by one.


John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2021, March 01). Carol Ann Duffy: Mean Time - Havisham [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Carol Ann Duffy: Mean Time – Havisham." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 01 Mar 2021,