7 November 2017
Sympathy verses Judgment in Carol Ann Duffy’s poem “Salome”
The poem “Salome” by Carol Ann Duffy is written from the perspective of Salome, a promiscuous woman who is retelling her drunken night. Although it is unclear whom Salome is speaking to, she tells her story using informal, colloquial language, as if conversing to a group of friends. Duffy uses Biblical allusions, which suggest that the speaker can be considered a reflection of the Biblical character Salome, who appears in the New Testament and is infamous for demanding the head of John the Baptist. Although Duffy seems to be retelling the traditional story of Salome, she depicts Salome as a modern figure. The following analysis will explore the Biblical allusions in Duffy’s poem, which help to determine what the poem is about, and moreover will explore how Duffy uses the dramatic monologue to provoke the reader to have sympathy for Salome. I thus contend that Duffy takes the reader into the mind of Salome, a character that has traditionally been portrayed as an evil, amoral woman, in order for the reader to view her from a perspective of sympathy rather than judgment.
As stated, rather than depicting Salome as a completely wicked and cynical character, Duffy provides indications that the reader is meant to sympathize with her. This is hinted at in the language that Duffy uses and the different tones in each stanza, proposing that Salome’s thoughts are changing