Overall, both authors convey female sexuality in different
lights; Duffy celebrates female sexuality in her poems as a means of liberating
women whilst Adichie explores the repression of female sexuality in order to
subtly address the violation of African women in some societies.


However, there is also a gentle rhythmic tone ” a softer
rhyme…echo” which highlight the romantic and gentle side of the protagonist
and the overall poem. This is in contrast to the rough, angry and violent
language and imagery used in other poems (including Salome, Mrs Beast and
Little Red Cap).

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

is sacred. Perhaps the main protagonist has a stronger sense
of romantic desire than sexual desire, creating a contrast between sensuality
and sexuality. She repeatedly talks about “the bed”, indicating she
had “Romance and drama” with her lover. ‘Romance’ is capitalised,
emphasising the importance of their love. Anne uses heavenly imagery to express
her romantic feelings. “My living laughing love” uses alliteration,
indicating Anne’s lover meant the ‘world’ to her. The verb ‘laughing’ suggests
he was full of life. The reference of the senses “touch, scent and
taste” creates a sense of eroticism which reinforces Anne’s romantic
feelings. Duffy uses poetic techniques to present Anne’s love: “a verb
dancing in the centre of a noun” – a verb is an action word which
resembles “touch” and a “noun” is a thing which could be a
metaphor for Anne’s body- specifically her vagina.

“Anne Hathaway” expresses the protagonist’s strong
feelings of love and sexuality through language and imagery. Through the use of
dramatic monologue, we can establish Anne’s experiences of sexuality and
sensuality.  The poem begins with
“the bed”, establishing the setting of the poem. It is repeated four
times in the poem- suggesting that the bed is important and a metaphor for
Anne’s love “My lover” further implying “the bed”


The fact that she’ll “do it again” suggests she
feels confident carrying out and speaking about stereotypically male behaviour
such as having sex. This is in contrast to Kambili who’s sexual feelings and
desires are repressed; Kambili is unable to speak freely about her feelings for
Father Amadi- she knows it’s wrong and as a result this represses her.


Similarly, “Salome”, by Duffy uses sexual language
and imagery to explore female sexuality. In the context of a dramatic
monologue, the reader can infer what Salome has done from the first line
“I’d done it before” The contraction “I’d” uses modern,
colloquial language and the pronoun “it” implies sexual activity. The
past tense of “I’d indicates a pattern of behaviour suggesting ‘Salome’
frequently has sexual intercourse, emphasizing her sleazy masculine behaviour.
From the first line Duffy presents ‘Salome’ as a sexual woman who is
“doubtless” she’ll “do it again”; the adverb
“doubtless” suggests she is certain to have sexual intercourse again,
while the use of the brackets create an aside, (used in drama and theatre),
which is spoken quietly and heard by the readers, but not by anyone else. In
this case, the other person could be her lover “Peter? Simon? Andrew?
John?” Salome fails to recall her lover’s name- reinforcing her sleazy and
immoral masculine behaviour. Her masculine activities are also excessive-
“cut out the booze and the fags and the sex” the repetition of the
conjunction “and” creates a list form, and the colloquial terms used
(booze, fags and sex) highlight the modern, masculine image she projects of herself.
This contrasts the good, traditional woman Mama is in Purple Hibiscus.


 Moreover, in “Mrs
Beast”, Duffy subverts the male-female stereotype, and uses the form of
dramatic monologue so Mrs Beast speaks directly to the reader. This allows the
reader to gain a deeper insight into Mrs Beasts’ feelings of sexuality. Mrs
Beast expresses she is “No longer a girl, knowing her own mind”
suggesting she considers herself a mature woman who has a strong identity as a
woman. She announces “I had the language, girls “reinforcing the way
sexuality is explored through language. Duffy portrays Mrs Beasts’ confidence
and freedom to openly display her sexuality not only through her body, but also
through sexual language. This reinforces Duffy’s use of language as a powerful
tool in all of her poems which empowers her protagonists This is in contrast to
Kambili’s struggle and lack of ability to express herself using her voice.
Similarly, in ‘Little Red Cap’, the protagonist describes words as “warm,
beating, frantic, winged; music and blood” the fast pace of these words
gives a fast and exciting feeling, suggesting ‘Little Red Cap’ is excited. The
adjective “frantic” suggests she feels panicked. Perhaps she feels
frantic because she feels overwhelmed by all the “words”, suggesting
she feels passionate about language. The juxtaposition between the nouns
‘music’ and ‘blood’ contrast the difference of two ideas representing the pain
and pleasure of literature. Thus, Duffy explores sexuality through language as
a means of liberating women in literature.


This is in contrast to the traditional African patriarchal
society which subtly prohibits female sexuality and female desire for sex.


Perhaps Duffy implies sexuality is something that develops
during female adolescence, as she uses a young girl as the main protagonist. This
implies female adolescents discover their own sexuality during adolescence,
which is developed during their sexual awakening, like Kambili’s own sexual
awakening when she developed feelings for Father Amadi. Duffy indicates that
for a female adolescent to discover and embrace their sexuality, their
innocence will be lost and “ripped” away from them. Thus, their
childhood will be destroyed. Similarly, Kambili’s childhood has been
“ripped” away and stolen from her by her father.  Perhaps Duffy suggests that embracing your
sexuality as an adolescent develops and matures you into a strong female adult-
a similar themes in all poems which are all from the perspective of a female
adult who have an expressive sexuality. Thus, in this way, Duffy celebrates
female sexuality.


While Little Red Cap is making her way through the woods, her
“stockings ripped to shreds, scraps of red from my blazer snagged on twig
and branch”. Nouns such as ‘stockings’, ‘shreds’ and ‘scraps’ are sibilant
which creates harsh ‘s’ sounds which suggest danger and passion. The sibilance
creates a rhythmic flow when read aloud which adds to the seductive theme of
the text. Perhaps Duffy is attempting to seduce the readers. The
“ripping” of Little Red Cap’s “stockings” symbolises her
innocence being “ripped” away from her and “stockings” are
a piece of material associated with females which can be viewed as provocative
attire. Perhaps Duffy indicates her sense of sexuality through her clothing.
Also, the powerful use of the colour red i.e. Little Red Cap’s ‘blazer’
symbolises passion, love, an danger. However, as she is running through the
woods and her clothes are being “ripped”, reminds us that she is just
a child who could actually just be playing and running through the woods.


The World’s wife is very much a feminist novel. Feminism is a
literary movement which tries to discourage discrimination and humiliation of
women; it focuses its attention on the emancipation and liberation of women
which is done in The World’s Wife. Ogunyemi (1988:61) defines
feminism as “smacks of rebelliousness, fearlessness” This
reflects the behaviour of the female protagonists in The World’s Wife who
engage in stereotypical masculine activities such as casual sex, swearing, etc.
Duffy employs sexuality as a key tool in most of her poems to subvert the
traditional roles of both genders. In Little Red Cap, Duffy subverts the fairy
tale of Little Red Riding Hood to tell ‘Little Red Cap’s’ personal story and
experience using the form of dramatic monologue. Duffy employs imagery to
create a tone of sensuality, whereas the original children’s story (Little Red
Riding Hood) had no sexual themes but more of a concept of morality.



On the other hand, Duffy subverts the stereotypical gender
roles, presenting her female protagonists as masculine characters who reject
feminine behaviour and behave as if they are men with an open and free
sexuality rather than being submissive and passive which are characteristics
that are praised in African culture. The African community where Mama and
Kambili come from views the ‘good woman’, expressed by Udumukwu (2007:3) who
“suffers the effects of oppression and neglect, and who must maintain a silence
and passivity in order to remain good. Silence and passivity are two principal
features of a good woman”. Mama is also a “good woman who bears the
wicked children of war and disaster” as expressed by Udumukwu (2007:3). This
sharply contrasts the masculine and angry women in The World’s Wife. However,
feminists would criticise Purple Hibiscus for the exploitation of women, but
would more so praise it for addressing the issue of domestic violence and
repression of women. Ranti (2012:1) also affirms that the novel is “a
complex picture of a man struggling with his demons, taking out his struggles
on those he loves: his wife and his daughter”. Ranti highlights the issue
of domestic violence which is significantly ignored in some African cultures.


Another way female sexuality is repressed in Purple Hibiscus
is through the violation and abuse of females. Ibeku says: Most African novels
present female characters as sex objects or inferior beings (2015) who lack
sexuality. Beatrice is presented as a sexual object who is abused and violated
by her husband. Her body is violated by Papa on page 41: “Mama was slung
over his shoulder like sacks of rice…There’s blood on the floor”.  Mama’s body “slung over his
shoulder” suggests she is being personified almost like an animal that has
been slaughtered. The verb “slung” signifies Mama is being carelessly
carried which emphasizes Papa’s dehumanizing nature. Thus, demonstrating
Beatrice’s body as being violated by her husband – perhaps in this
way her sexuality is also repressed. This portrays Mama as a predominantly
passive African woman living in a patriarchal society whereas Papa is a
dominant male, free to express his violence towards Mama (without any
consequences). Perhaps Adichie is highlighting the prevalent issue of domestic
violence within the African community. She portrays Mama as a ‘good woman’ who
accepts all forms of violence from her husband because she’s too afraid to
speak out due to the oppressive nature of the Church and society. This shows
that the violence towards Mama has caused her to repress her feelings as she
has no other choice due to her role as an African woman within the community.


Repression of female sexuality in “Purple Hibiscus”
is portrayed through the character of 15-year-old Kambili and relationship with
Father Amadi. “I could not help staring at him because his voice pulled me”
indicates Kambili’s attraction to Amadi as she can “not help staring at
him” suggesting she finds him beautiful. The adjective “pulled”
suggests by force.  The reader sees Kambili as a young woman who is able
to express her feelings for a man, like the female protagonist’s in “The
World’s Wife”. Kambili announces “his voice pulled me”
indicating the way in which he speaks is attractive. Not only is Father Amadi’s
voice enchanting for Kambili’s ears, but the fact that she is paying attention
to his voice and the words that he speaks, implies her desire and struggle to
be able to speak freely as a young female adolescent. Furthermore, “he
spoke so effortlessly, as if his mouth were a musical instrument that just let
sound out when touched”. The adjective “effortlessly” implies
Father Amadi speaks with no physical or mental effort.  Kambili compares Father Amadi’s voice to a
“musical instrument”, reinforcing the idea she finds his voice
melodic, perhaps even soothing for her to hear, like some music itself. Father
Amadi speaking “so effortlessly” reinforces Kambili’s struggle to
express herself. This signifies her struggle to find her voice in a patriarchal
African society. Thus, we can see that Adichie portrays the repression of
female sexuality through language.


Female sexuality is a major theme in both “Purple
Hibiscus” and “The World’s Wife” but it is presented completely
differently in both texts. In “The World’s Wife”, Duffy’s characters swear
and have casual sex etc. – they rebel against gender norms. They present their
sexuality as liberated which is expressed through language and actions. Furthermore,
dramatic monologue and strong imagery is also employed to reflect female sexuality.
However, in Purple Hibiscus, it is significantly repressed throughout the

Written by

I'm Colleen!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out