I feel that the poem “Stealing” is more effective in conveying the plight of the main character. Carol Ann Duffy has written sympathetically about a misunderstood and anti-social character. The main themes of the poem are loneliness and confusion. Loneliness is mirrored by single word sentences, used frequently throughout the poem, whereas confusion is shown by the opening and closing lines of the poem being a question.
Imagery is also frequently used throughout, which are used by Duffy to set the general mood of the poem – “Beneath the winter moon” – suggests that everything is desolate and gives the impression of coldness, relating to the loneliness of the main character in the poem. This coldness is also repeated as “The slice of ice within my own brain” whereby the sibilance suggests a slightly mysterious feel about the character. Many of the images are quite striking such as “A mucky ghost” which may also mirror the character’s loneliness, and that he may feel like a ghost, invisible.
The word “mucky” seems to be a cry for attention, the character will “leave a mess” as part of a scheme to get noticed. The admiration of the snowman – “He looked magnificent” – shows the closest that the character has come to any form of affection; he cared more for this inanimate “tall, white mute” than he did about those who initially created the snowman – “Part of the thrill was knowing that children would cry. ” The next line – “Life’s tough” seems to be a justification for his feelings, which suggests that the character may have had a hard time as a child, and wishes for others to empathise with him.
In my opinion, the snowman is symbolic for temporary happiness, as snow is temporary; this point came to my attention when the snowman is rebuilt and “He didn’t look the same”. The characters aggression was triggered by this and justified by alliteration “Again. Again” is also another example of loneliness echoed by one word sentences. I’ve come to notice that the character boasts about what he has stolen; it seems that he always steals what he does not need and cannot use.
He breaks in out of curiosity, “to have a look” but does not understand what he sees, which gives the impression that he is pathetic, by leaving “a mess” and steaming up mirrors. Perhaps he is envious of everyone around him – “alone among lumps of snow” – and is curious about the lives led by other people. For example; he casually mentions how he might “pinch a camera” – it is worth little to him, but much to those whose memories it has recorded. The majority of the language used it colloquial, however is very distinct.
The opening question indicates the character is being interviewed, perhaps by a police officer, social worker or probation officer, however this fact is unknown. The ending stanza is also a question, which seems more honest – “You don’t understand a word I’m saying do you. ” In my opinion, this is a perfect finale, the characters real motivation is revealed – boredom which has emerged from his feelings that he is inadequate, and perhaps he feels unable to make or do anything worthwhile.
The poem, in its entirety seems to be one large confession, referring to his many thefts, the guitar, which is arguably self deceiving, as he thinks he “might learn to play”. Stealing the “bust of Shakespeare” could be ironic, as the character desires to be more creative, so the thief takes a piece of creative talent but “flogged it” which display his feelings of inability. The speaker seems desperate to explain his actions, but just ends up condemning himself. The poem is written in fairly regular verses, which contrast with the irregularity of the characters life.
The effectiveness of this poem is generally brought forward by use of language, particularly enjambment, emphasizing the feeling that the poem is written in natural speech. The statement of desire, “I wanted him, a mate with a mind as cold as the slice of ice within my own brain,” is poignant because the speaker is obviously lonely and in need of a mate. He craves for a companion with an ice-cold mind, which is interesting as we usually associate warmth with friendship. He wants a friend, but is simultaneously admitting that his own brain is too full of ice to appreciate true friendship.
The description of him kicking the snowman, “My breath ripped out in rags” is very effective, since the line itself is ripped in two by enjambment. This mimics his jerky, flustered, breathing pattern as he goes about his destruction. The metaphor of rags, which are worthless objects, echoes both the worthlessness of the snowman itself in its newly-demolished state, and the worthlessness of the act. Towards the end of the poem, Duffy has portrayed the character in such a way that you do not think of him as a criminal, but as an anti-social, misunderstood individual, the reader is likely to feel sympathy for the character.
Duffy herself is sympathising with the character, which sets the tone for the poem, She is trying to understand why anyone would want to commit a senseless crime. We see the speaker’s pessimistic attitude: although they’d like their life to be glamorous, they are reduced to getting kicks from stealing a snowman and ‘things I don’t need’. The overall tone of the poem reflects like line “Better off dead than giving in” as that line stands out above many others, as it is blatant reflection of the characters feelings.