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Carol Ann Duffy: The World's Wife

9. Mrs Sisyphus

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the ninth poem in the collection, ‘Mrs Sisyphus', focusing in particular on: (i) the character of Sisyphus from Greek mythology; (ii) the ways in which Duffy plays with rhyme; (iii) the concept of a 'work widow'; and (iv) the offensive language that the narrators of these poems often use about their men ("jerk" and "berk" in this poem", "asshole" in Mrs Aesop).


In this course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Carol Ann Duffy’s 1999 collection, 'The World's Wife'. After a brief introduction to the collection as a whole, the course continue with a read-through and analysis of each of the thirty 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. (2020, April 28). Carol Ann Duffy: The World's Wife - Mrs Sisyphus [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Carol Ann Duffy: The World's Wife – Mrs Sisyphus." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 28 Apr 2020,