By carol Ann Duffy
Mind Map by kayleighmurray, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by kayleighmurray over 8 years ago

Resource summary

  1. Themes
    1. Love: Poem ends on a warning that love can be "lethal" and life threatening, forcing the reader to understand the fact that real love based on honesty and truthfulness can be painful and destructive as well as fulfilling and enriching.
      1. Negative aspects of conventional relationship's: Suggests that ultimately such relationships can often be restrictive to the individual, while a love which is free from such constraints is an ideal worth pursuing.
        1. This, combined with the theme of love as being dangerous, makes for an unsettling tone to the poem. However, there is a sense that this is a more genuine and useful present, which suggests a practical love. The offer of a wedding-ring, in an offhand manner, also reinforces the idea that truthful love is the better sort.
      2. Subject Matter
        1. Valentine describes a gift for a lover, such as you would give on Valentine’s Day. It is a rather unusual present – an onion. The poem explains why it is a powerful gift of love, much more than the clichéd roses or box of chocolates. The onion becomes a metaphor for love, and so the poem is about love as well as Valentine gifts.
        2. Form and Strucutre
          1. The poem is written in free verse. Each stanza is very short, and several are only one line long. This form echoes the form of an onion itself, and the layers that go to make it up. There is a sense in which Valentine is within the tradition of list poems, as the speaker tells you what the onion is, and then what it is like. The poem is a first person narrative, in the form of a direct address to "you". We don’t know who the "you" is, but perhaps, as it’s the kind of person who would normally receive a "cute card" it’s a woman.
          2. Sound
            1. The only alliteration in the poem is in the "cute card" and the "red rose" – the clichéd Valentines. Is Duffy implying something about the over use of alliteration in love poems? Although there is no rhyme in the poem, there are some places where repeated structures mean that words are repeated, echoing each other. This represents both their ongoing love and the layers of the onion.
            2. Attitudes
              1. The narrator of the poem dismisses clichéd ideas of love with the two single line stanzas that begin with the word "not". There is an attitude in the poem that normal Valentines are not as honest as this one. The two single line stanzas in the middle of the poem contrast the idea of truthfulness with clichéd cards or kissograms. It is also more cynical about love: rather than promising to last forever, this Valentine will merely last as long as the two of them are possessive and faithful, like the onion. This is an unusual attitude for a love poem.
              Show full summary Hide full summary


              John Montague
              Tara Matthews
              Answering Unseen Poetry questions
              The daffodils By William Wordsworth
              Boy Spicy
              Dulce Et Decorum Est
              Catherine Joy
              Using GoConqr to teach English literature
              Sarah Egan
              Using GoConqr to study English literature
              Sarah Egan
              The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
              K d
              Macbeth Quotes To Learn
              Sophie Brokenshire
              Romeo & Juliet Quotes
              Lucy Hodgson
              English Language Techniques