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Carol Ann Duffy: The World's Wife

29. Mrs Beast

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the twenty-ninth poem in the collection, 'Mrs Beast', focusing in particular on: (i) the fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast, which goes back to at least the Middle Ages; (ii) the extent to which this poem combines the themes of the previous poems in the collection; (iii) the significance of the poker game; (iv) the power relationship between Mr and Mrs Beast ("The sheepish Beast came in / with a tray of schnapps at the end of the game"); (v) the reversal of Auden's "let the more loving one be me" in the last line of the poem ("Let the less-loving one be me"); (vi) the importance of the senses – touching, scratching, smelling, etc.; and (vii) the theme of men (and women) as animals, cf. 'Queen Kong', 'Circe'.


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 Beast [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

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

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