In 'Liar', How Does Duffy Portray This Woman so Sympathetically? Essay

1019 WordsNov 27, 20125 Pages
It is Duffy’s intention to provoke sympathy in ‘Liar’ and she aims to show us that society has no right in judging those who openly act in a way that others would deem incorrect, even though they are no difference between them in private. By showing Susan to be a lonely and pitiful person who is unduly judged, Duffy is able to achieve this. In the opening stanza, ‘Susan’ claims that “she was really a man” and that “after she’d taken off her cotton floral day-frock she was him all right, in her head, dressed in that heavy herringbone.” She has a daytime persona in which she is feminine and harmless however the herringbone opposes the femininity of her daytime persona; she believes that she is a man and so in the evenings wears male clothing. The outward signification of physical clothing points towards inner confusion, however the line “The eyes in the mirror knew that” shows that although she is trying to suppress herself, she is aware of reality and knows things, meaning that she is not mad, she is simply a woman who cannot accept herself the way she is and craves to be someone else. Also, the fact that she believes herself to be a man is not a lie, she does not intend to deceive anyone and does not desire to harm those around her by dressing as a man, it is simply a personal neurotic tendency that she has that has no affect on others. By pretending to be a man, Susan is merely fulfilling a fantasy and is not directly harming others and so she is displayed in a sympathetic manner. At the beginning of the second stanza, Duffy writes “of course a job, a humdrum city flat; of course, the usual friends. Lover? Sometimes.” This shows each individual aspect of society and slows the poem to a monotonous pace; it is a reflection of a ‘humdrum city’ life. As far as society is concerned, she leads a substandard and normal life. This evokes sympathy from the reader as
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