The Intertextuality Of Carol Ann Duffy’s “Salome”

“Salome” comes from Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife. The poems all share one common trait: the narrator is historically marginalized, and they tell the story through their personal experience. Salome was first introduced in the New Testament. Since then, a number of novels and paintings have been devoted to Salome. Her legend has become an icon of a vicious femme fatale. Oscar Wilde wrote an end-of-the-siecle play that was based on the biblical story. This play had an even greater influence than the story itself on Carol Ann Duffy’s “Salome”. Intertextual relationships between two texts are established by characterizations, rhyme and juxtapositions of tone.

Salome is characterized by symbolism in Wilde’s work. The moon appears throughout the play as a symbol that refers to the character. Page of Herodias describes the moon as “like rising from a crypt,” “like searching for dead things” in the first scene. Salome then reflects, “coldly chaste,” on the current state of the lunar body as if it were a reflection of herself. Salome’s haughtiness, coldness and indifference are portrayed by the moon as metaphorically present. Salome may have emotional intentions at the end, but her main motives for acting are selfish and obsessional.

Salome is described as a narrator by Carol Ann Duffy in her poem. This character’s portrayal in Shakespeare’s play has a strong similarity. The poem is a monologue that reveals Salome’s inner thoughts. It creates an dimensional and complex portrait. The poem reveals such characteristics as narcissism and indifference. The lines “the biter or the beater who would come to Salome like a lamb at the slaughter” are a powerful self-reflection for the reader. It is similar to Salome’s own self-identification.

Salome shows her coldness and lack of empathy in several lines of the poem. “I’d guess that she laughed out of pain.” Salome may not be able to differentiate between emotions. Salome, despite being portrayed as an emotionally disturbed character, could have a good understanding of what it is like to struggle in life. That could help justify her cruel and violent behavior. Salome could also be using “ain’t-life-a-bitch” as a sarcastic expression, since she is in power and enjoying life. Carol Ann Duffy creates a multi-dimensional character, Oscar Wild, in both her poem and the play.

The structure of Salome’s play accentuates her irrational conduct by establishing a paradoxical relationship with the content. The play’s light, musical tones contrast with the character’s actions and emphasize Salome’s inconsistent emotions. This is a story that challenges morals. Duffy uses the free verse structure to create a gentle build-up throughout the poem. The content, however, implies a murderous event. The second stanza of the poem has the strongest rhyme, possibly implying a sound like dripping blood.

The poet uses rhymes in words like “clatter”, “clutter”, and “butter” to create a musical undertone that appeals to the auditory sense of the reader. The irony of this structure comes from the fact that it is a combination of a sonnet’s structure and descriptions of a femme fatale’s disturbing actions. Salome occupies a central position in Carol Ann Duffy’s novel and Oscar Wilde’s play, while the New Testament story places Salome at the very end of events. New Testament is mainly focused on John the Baptizer and Herod. Salome’s mother asks what she should request from Herod when Salome is given the opportunity. By not making her own choice, Salome establishes the power of her mother. Salome, who was originally called “a girl” in the New Testament and had no name at all, appears much younger than she does in later recreations. She is only concerned with her mother’s wishes and does not consider her own. Salome is a bleak character in the original tale because she has no personal motivation.

Carol Ann Duffy adapted the original Bible story to suit her own idiosyncrasies. Duffy gave the voice to a character that had no power or opinion. The internal monologue chosen by Duffy in the poem makes “Salome”, a character with a strong voice, appear independent. The character’s dominance is highlighted by the use of a lot of pronouns in first person singular followed by action verbs. Carol Ann Duffy then retells John’s story as Salome. Duffy’s interpretation of Oscar Wilde gives Salome strength, independence and a sense of self. Salome is presented in a complex way, thanks to the intertextuality. The reader will also be challenged by her internal feelings and motifs.