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Comparative Commentary on “Salome” and “Medusa”

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Both “Salome” and “Medusa” are poems written by a poet called Carol Ann Duffy, which have similarities and differences based on various aspects of poem analysis. To begin with the poem “Salome” has a slightly different audience than the poem “Medusa”. The audience in “Salome” is unconfident and oppressed women who do not believe in their power and what they can do, men who underestimate women and people who discriminate others based on their sex or gender. In addition to that the audience in “Medusa” is unconfident women who were hurt before –mostly by men- and do not believe that they can be strong again, and reckless men who hurt women and torture them both physically and mentally. Moving on to the purpose of each poem, “Salome” aims to show the audience the power of women and how at times they can act like men and be stronger.

The poem tells the audience there is not much difference between the two genders and how women can turn men into slaves by using their brains and sexuality. However “Medusa” has the purpose of making the audience emphasize the mythical character of Medusa whilst showing how women can blossom and rise again from the darkness and pain that they felt before and get stronger again. The poems also have very different contents and things that happening in them. In the poem “Salome”, a woman called Salome is waking up to a hangover, with a man beside her bed who she does not know. With the help of the religious story of Salome and John the Baptist, the audience can easily understand that she had killed the man however she acts reckless and does not care about the fact that she is a murderer, which indicates the power of women.

Although in the poem “Medusa”, the audience comes across with a women who is hurt by her lover and turned into a monster because of her jealousy. Medusa realizes her power and strength throughout the poem and which shows the audience a women figure that is going through a rebirth. One thing that is a similar element in the poems is the theme. Both of the poems “Salome” and “Medusa” are focusing on feminism, power and violence. The power of women is a topic covered in both poems since both of the characters –Salome and Medusa- are stronger than men. Also the theme of violence is seen in both poems hence Salome murders a man by cutting his head off and Medusa is intending to turn his former lover into stone. However “Salome” also refers to the theme of religion because of the fact that the story of Salome is a biblical reference. In addition to this the poem “Medusa” comes from a story in Greek mythology. The tones of the poems vary also.

Both of the poems are dramatic monologues; however “Salome” has a much more reckless and careless tone considering the fact that she does not get bothered with the fact that she killed a man. The tone in “Salome” is also very confident and arrogant too. Though in “Medusa”, the audience comes across with a much more jealous and depressed tone than “Salome’s. The mood of the poem “Salome” is disturbing because of her recklessness; however the atmosphere in “Medusa” is much more depressing. There are many stylistic devices used in the poem “Salome”.

In the first stanza of the poem there is an imagery used and we can understand the feelings and the confusion of Salome. Also we understand that she had killed the man because despite the man having dark hair, he has a red beard which is covered in blood. In the second stanza she is naming men she has been with and giving a clear image to the reader’s mind of what is going on by describing the atmosphere. In the third stanza there is an alliteration used: “the beater or biter,” And finally there is a simile in the third stanza “who’d come like a lamb to the slaughter to Salome’s bed.” which compares men to a lamb which is an innocent animal, emphasizing the power of women. In the poem “Medusa”, there are many literary devices as well. In the first stanza she describes her appearance to create an image in the reader’s mind. In the second stanza she uses a metaphor by saying: “There are bullet tears in my eyes.” which makes the reader feel both scared and sad. In the fourth, fifth and sixth stanzas, she talks about her realization of her becoming a monster. In the fourth stanza, she glances; in the fifth stanza, she looks, and in the sixth stanza she stares.

This shows how she is getting used to her being a deadly creature however the fact that she stares at herself in the sixth stanza shows her self-loathing to the readers. She asks rhetorical questions in the seventh stanza, and finally in the last stanza, she says: “Look at me now.” both meaning that she is depressed by the fact that she has become a monster since she used to be so pretty in the past and that she has a purpose of killing his past lover by turning him into stone. Finally, the poems have different structural devices. The poem “Salome” consists of four stanzas that do not have equal lines. There are dashes used in the first and last stanzas that show her thoughts, such as: -whose? – or –and ain’t life a bitch- . There are three dots used to make the reader think in the first stanza and rhymes in the second stanza. There are exclamation and question sentences. The poem “Medusa” consists of seven stanzas and a single line for eighth stanza; each of the seven stanzas have the same number of lines. There are mostly question sentences in the poem, and commas to make the reader pause at times to think.In conclusion, both of the poems “Salome” and “Medusa” mentions the strength of women and feminism in different ways, languages and stories, nevertheless they both make the audience rethink about the identity of different genders and how women should not be underestimated. İdil Çelik 10H

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