The Possessive Poem Analysis

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 507 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Mar 25, 2024

Words: 507|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Mar 25, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Body Paragraphs
  3. Counterarguments
  4. Conclusion
  5. References


Carol Ann Duffy, the esteemed Scottish poet and playwright, has been lauded for her evocative and incisive explorations of love, gender, and identity. In her poem "The Possessive," Duffy delves into the complexities of love and possession, revealing the intricate interplay between desire, control, and vulnerability. This essay will analyze the poem's portrayal of possession in romantic relationships, drawing on literary theories and expert opinions to provide a nuanced understanding of its implications and effects.

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Body Paragraphs

In "The Possessive," Duffy employs a series of paradoxes and contradictions to explore the ambiguous nature of possession in romantic relationships. The poem's speaker oscillates between expressions of intense desire and fear of loss, illustrating the fine line between love and obsession. This tension is encapsulated in the poem's opening lines: "Not mine, although I held it / like a moon in water between my hands" (Duffy, 1993, p. 10). Here, the speaker's attempt to possess the beloved is juxtaposed with the recognition that true ownership is unattainable, highlighting the inherent contradictions of possessive love.

Literary theorists and scholars have long debated the role of possession in romantic relationships. Some argue that possession is an inherent aspect of love, reflecting the human desire for connection and intimacy (Sternberg, 1986). Others contend that possessive tendencies can be detrimental to relationships, fostering an unhealthy dynamic of control and domination (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1992). In "The Possessive," Duffy appears to engage with both perspectives, presenting possession as a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that encompasses both love and obsession, vulnerability and control.

To further illustrate the complexities of possession in romantic relationships, it is helpful to consider case studies from literature. For example, in Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, the titular character grapples with her possessive feelings towards Mr. Rochester, ultimately recognizing the importance of mutual respect and autonomy in their relationship (Brontë, 1847). Similarly, in D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love, the character of Gudrun Brangwen becomes increasingly possessive and controlling in her relationship with Gerald Crich, leading to their eventual estrangement (Lawrence, 1920). These examples demonstrate the potential pitfalls of possessive love, while also highlighting the importance of balancing desire and autonomy in relationships.


One potential counterargument is that "The Possessive" glorifies possessive tendencies in romantic relationships, reinforcing harmful stereotypes and expectations. However, a closer analysis of the poem reveals a more nuanced and critical perspective on possession. By highlighting the contradictions and tensions inherent in possessive love, Duffy encourages readers to question the validity of such desires and consider the potential consequences of pursuing them.


In conclusion, Carol Ann Duffy's "The Possessive" offers a thought-provoking exploration of the complexities of love and possession in romantic relationships. Through its evocative language and vivid imagery, the poem invites readers to consider the implications of possessive tendencies and the delicate balance between desire and autonomy in relationships. Future research could examine the role of possession in contemporary relationships, drawing on Duffy's poem as a framework for understanding the complex interplay between love, control, and vulnerability.


Brontë, C. (1847). Jane Eyre. Smith, Elder & Co.

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Duffy, C. A. (1993). The Other Country. Anvil Press Poetry.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

The Possessive Poem Analysis. (2024, March 25). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from
“The Possessive Poem Analysis.” GradesFixer, 25 Mar. 2024,
The Possessive Poem Analysis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Apr. 2024].
The Possessive Poem Analysis [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 25 [cited 2024 Apr 20]. Available from:
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