“Feminine gospels” By: Carol Ann Duffy
The novel “Feminine gospels” By” Carol Ann Duffy gives a very poetic look at they way women occupy the space of London. The poems describe many different aspects of English women in London. They all have a different story and occupy their spaces in a unique way. One of the poems in the novel is called, “The Map-Woman” it explains how the woman’s space (which is London) is pretty much made her into the person that she is. She describes that physical features of her body could actually represents spaces that she occupies throughout her city. The London itself as a result has actually become a part of her. On page three it states, “The woman’s skin was a map of the town, where she’s grown from a child. When she went out, she covered it up with a dress, with a shawl, with a hat, with mitts or a muff, with leggings, trousers or jeans, with an ankle-length cloak, hooded and fingertip-sleeved.” This passage is also describing what kind of role that society plays on her as well. It is describing the culture of London and what is expected of women to wear in that society. It is tradition that women should cover up her body. But this passage is describing that by covering up her body she is actually taking away from who she really is. It is as almost if she is hiding behind the articles of clothing and not being fully allowed expressing herself and who she really is.
The passage on page six also states, “She piled on linen, satin, silk, leather, wool, perfume, and mousse and went out. She got in a limousine. The map perspired under her cloths. She took a plane. The map seethed on her flesh. She spoke in a foreign tongue.” I believe that this passage here also further goes off the idea of women being covered and wearing the appropriate clothing in society. But I also believe that this passage is very important to women occupying space as well. It seems that when you are a foreigner to another country you pretty much bring your culture with you. You are identified with the place that you are from and the space there that you grew up in. I think that is a very clever way of explaining how your culture travels with you by the map being a physical part of who you are.
Another poem that I found interesting was “The Woman Who Shopped”. This poem here was describing women who blew a lot of money on material possessions. I found an interesting passage on page 18 stating, “Her ribs were carpeted red, her lungs glittered with chandeliers over the singing tills, her gut was the food hall, hung with pink hams, crammed with cheese, fruits, wines, truffles and caviar.” This passage in the poem reminded me of the way the physical similarities were written in the other poem, “The Mapping-Woman”. This one was a little different though. It describes how the women have become so infatuated with shopping and material possessions for happiness she is starting to become into a material possession herself (metaphorically speaking). But the descriptions show that she has surrounded herself in the space for so long it is actually taking over the person that she is. I believe both of these poems in her novel show how different the women are occupying their spaces.