To what extent do women in Duffy’s poems conform to or challenge gender stereotypes?

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The work of the Scottish poet Carol Ann Duffy frequently subverts stereotypes about traditional gender roles by encouraging readers to approach topics in new ways.

For instance, in "Anne Hathaway," Duffy takes up the point of view of William Shakespeare's wife, speaking about the bed she shared with her husband, which he referred to in his will as his "second-best bed." In Duffy's account, Hathaway has an active, rich imagination and contributed to the inspiration for Shakespeare's work, but her contribution was devalued by men.

In Duffy's poem "Valentine," she subverts the romantic expectations about love between men and women. The speaker of the poem gives her lover an "onion," which brings tears, instead of a symbol of love like a red rose or a satin heart, and describes her love as being "lethal" and stinging like a knife. Instead of being passive and courted, the speaker of the poem is active, threatening, and even violent.

In poems like these, Duffy challenges conventional attitudes about gender, as well as traditional beliefs about love and relationships.