The Use of Feminist Criticism in Mrs Midas, a Poem by Carol Ann Duffy
How does feminist criticism open up meaning in ‘Mrs Midas.‘ Write an analysis of the poem including reference to the critical anthology to support your interpretation. ‘Mrs Midas‘ is a revisionism version from the female perspective of King Midas’ story, an ancient Greek myth about a man who could turn everything to gold with a touch. This poem explores the sadness Mrs Midas feels in regards to not being able to feel the touch of her husband to the anguish, annoyance and disgust she has for him about his greediness. This poem is very interesting for feminist critics as there are both arguments for Mrs Midas being a strong willed person that does not let him ruin her life as she runs away and lives without him. However there is another reading that her husband controls her emotion and all she longs for is a loving husband. Right from the beginning the voice is of Mrs Midas who retells the story from her point of View. This would interest feminist critics as in literature women are sometimes voiceless or only heard behind the men however it is clear Mrs Midas has the control and is telling her story; through her humour and metaphor we are able to understand the breakdown of her marriage as well as the idea that ‘wealth isn‘t everything’ in a different way that King Midas‘ story told this idea.
Secondly, it may be seen that Mrs Midas is challenging society‘s demand of ‘feminine behavior’ as Simone de Beauvoir would put it as it she ‘poured a glass of wine this action shows a lack of interest in the idea that women are not meant to be drinkers. The way the poem is introduced so casually ‘It was late September. I’d just poured a glass of wine…‘ gives the poem an air of mystery but when we realise she is telling us of a difﬁcult time in her life it makes the casualness seem like strength as it can normally be assumed that a divorce/separation is always a hard topic to talk about. Although terriﬁed of her husband she quickly hides her cat giving her an air of heroism as well as making her seem funnier her humor allows the reader to realize that Mrs Midas is an intellectual woman. Feminist critics may find Mrs Midas‘ humour and relaxed personality as a normal yet unfair treatment of women in history and literature, there are great personalities of women yet they are never mentioned (in the original story of King Midas Mrs Midas wasn‘t even mentioned).
This characteristic of Mrs Midas can be seen as Duffy trying to highlight this inequality. Mrs. Midas can be seen as independent as when she has enough she ‘drove him up,‘ not because she wanted to as she frequently visited him but because she realizes that is what was best for her. Mrs Midas was so in love with her husband once upon a time but now is terriﬁed that a kiss would turn her lips to a ‘work of art.‘ 0n the other hand feminist critics may open up meaning behind ‘Mrs Midas‘ by interpreting Duffy‘s use of gender roles as showing how much hurt a woman can go through because of her husband but still wants to be with them- suggesting how in our society women being truly happy is with a man. We are ﬁrst introduced to Mr Midas when he is ‘snapping twig,‘ the snapping has a violent tone and perhaps suggests that the relationship is quite a patriarchal one and male dominating which juxtaposes the female narrative possibly inferring that although the women may have a voice it is still less than the men‘s Her husband who is greedy for money and is hurting her emotionally still gets the stereotypical doting wife who ‘served up the meal’ and ‘poured with a shaking hand’ (even when scared of him she still does everything for him). Another thing that feminist critics would be very interested in would be the fact that Mrs Midas believes that her spouse has ‘lack of thought‘ for her and is ‘pure selfish’ but dreams of ‘boring his child.‘
It could be proposed that Mrs Midas is a symbol of many women who are not treated right by their spouse but still wish to have a child with them as that is what society has made us think ‘happiness’ and a ‘good relationship’ involves. Duffy has made Mr Midas almost seem villainous by introducing Mrs Midas’ dream of having a child. Wanting a child is something a couple usually agree upon and so when Mrs Midas explains that they were ‘passionate then’ it can be thought that Mr Midas would have known of this dream yet he let his greed for money come before his lovers wish yet although he broke her dream Mrs Midas still checks up on him even when she tries to kick him out.’ In conclusion, it can be argued that ‘Mrs Midas’ is a feminist poem that is trying to highlight the inequality women in literature face. Duffy creates a stereotypical wife who cooks and cleans but subversives her personality for a strong-willed and intellectual character. Using ‘Mrs Midas’ Duffy shows the unjust females in history and literature go through.