Intertextual Language In Ovid's Metamorphoses

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Mrs. Midas Mrs. Midas holds intertextual semantic relations based on world text theory with Ovid’s king Midas’ story from Metamorphoses (Ziolkowski‏ 200). In Metamorphoses, Book XI, King Midas was granted a wish, viz., everything he touches, turns into gold. His wish proved to be a curse since his food and drink turn into gold. Upon his request, the wish was taken away. His foolishness did not stop at the curse-like wish; moreover, he commits another blunder when he judges Pan a winner in a music contest between Pan and Apollo. To punish him, Apollo gave him donkey ears (SparkNotes Editors). In this poem Duffy revisits and retells the story of King Midas to discover something hidden or to highlight something surprising in the familiar. In …show more content…
But colloquial as it may be, Mrs. Aesop’s chatty voice hardly sounds like the voice of a woman who lived around 600 BC… this is the poet’s representation of that speaking subject, and once again, the social critique can be directed towards male-female relationships within the poet’s own world. ( 96) “Mrs. Aesop” is more about loss and need of love than criticism of male dominance. By criticizing her husband’s behavior, the wife aims at regaining a wholesome relationship. In an interview, Duffy stresses this point: “She’d like less stories and more passionate love. She wants him to stop strutting about and being big-headed and spend more time on their relationship” (Wood). Duffy herself felt bored by Aesop’s stories when she was a child; a feeling that was highlighted in the …show more content…
Mrs. Aesop stresses this fact as if she was listing examples of his erroneous boring behavior, and teaches him a lesson: And that’s another thing, the sex was diabolical. I gave him a fable one night about a little cock that wouldn’t crow, a razor-sharp axe with a heart blacker than the pot that called the kettle. I’ll cut off your tail, all right. I said, to save my face. That shut him up. I laughed last, longest. (19) Sex is described as diabolical, a strong indication of his inability to satisfy her. She turns the tables on him as she tells him a frightening fable taunting and threatening him. The pun in the “cock that wouldn’t crow” stresses utter failure in their sexual relationship, and the cock, slang for penis, being described as “little” endorses absence of sexual pleasure. The antithesis between a good-for-nothing little cock and “a razor-sharp axe” highlights the painful retribution that will befall him, something crystallized in words such as “razor”, “sharp” and “cut off”. The simile that makes her heart blacker than the kettle assures that she will have no mercy in performing the action. The pun in “tail” and tale” underscores complete physical as well as psychological mortification.

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