Rapunzstiltskin Liz Lochhead Liz Lochhead • Liz Lochhead was born in Motherwell, Scotland in 1947. She studied at the Glasgow School of Art in the 1960s before working as an art teacher. She has built a formidable reputation as a dramatist and poet and is currently one of Scotland's most successful playwrights. The poem • The Poem • In 'Rapunzstiltskin', Liz Lochhead plays with the Grimm brothers' stories of Rapunzel and Rumpelstiltskin to make a comic fable of sexual politics and power relationships between men and women. Like other women writers of her generation Lochhead found that fairytales and legends are a source of deeply held stereotypes (old hags, wise old men, damsels in distress and knights in shining armour) and that they were ripe for a modern re-telling. This poem is one that needs to be heard by a collective audience, and it achieves its effects from a shared understanding between poet and audience. What Liz Lochhead Said • This isn't my own voice... it's a kind of tough girl talk... which is an aspect of myself but not my own voice... there's a kind of ventriloquism going on. • The man in the poem, if you look closely, is always coming up with the right answers but it's to the question before... he's always one behind... when she takes off her glasses the real answer would be, "Why you're beautiful!"... but he says, "All the better to see you with my dear." He's still stuck in the fairy stories! ‘Rapunzstiltskin’ • You have each been given a section of the poem. • In pairs you must look closely at this section. • You are looking for features of unusual language, informal language and abbreviations. • You should also look for similes, metaphors, alliteration and onomatopoeia. • Highlight the various fairy tales used in your section and explain to the rest of the class what you think it means. You’ve just watched a clip of the poet, Liz Lochhead, reading and speaking about the poem ‘Rapunzstiltskin’. Think about 1. What do you think Liz Lochhead is saying about love and relationships between men & women ? 2. What is Lochhead’s opinion of fairy tales? lochhead - rapunzstiltskin.wmv Watch the clip of ‘He’s Just not that in to you’ • Think about how the two messages are similar • What do fairy tales teach us about love? • What issue does the clip highlight? He's Just Not that in to You Lines 1-5 & just when our maiden had got good & used to her isolation, stopped daily expecting to be rescued, had come to almost love her tower, along comes This Prince Opening questions 1. a) Why do you think the poet starts off with ‘&’? b) What does she expect us to know without reading the poem? 2. The word ‘maiden’ is not used as much these days. a) What do you think it means? b) Can you think any words that have a similar meaning? c) What does it tell us about the ‘maiden’? 3. How do we expect the maiden to feel about her tower and how does she actually feel? Use a reference from the text to support your answer. 4. What do you notice about line 5? Why did the writer choose to do this? 5. What message is the writer trying to send in the first five lines? Lines 6 -10 with absolutely all the wrong answers. Of course she had not been brought up to look for originality or gingerbread so at first she was quite undaunted • 1. hag inside etc. & how trapped she was); well, it was corny but he did look sort of gorgeous axe and all. So there she was, humming & pulling all the pins out of her chignon, throwing him all the usual lifelines till, soon, he was shimmying in & out every other day as though he owned the place, bringing her the sex manuals & skeins of silk from which she was meant, eventually, to weave the means of her own escape. ‘All very well & good,’ she prompted, ‘but when exactly?’ She gave him till well past the bell on the timeclock. She mouthed at him, hinted, she was keener than a T.V. quizmaster that he should get it right. ‘I’ll do everything in my power’ he intoned, ‘but the impossible (she groaned) might take a little longer.’ He grinned. She pulled her glasses off. ‘All the better to see you with my dear?’ he hazarded. She screamed, cut off her hair. ‘Why you’re beautiful?’ he guessed tentatively. ‘No, No, No!’ she shrieked & stamped her foot so hard it sank six cubits through the floorboards. ‘I love you?’ he came up with as finally she tore herself in two. Rapunzstiltskin by Liz Lochhead & just when our maiden had got good & used to her isolation, stopped daily expecting to be rescued, had come to almost love her tower, along comes This Prince with absolutely all the wrong answers. Of course she had not been brought up to look for originality or gingerbread so at first she was quite undaunted by his tendency to talk in strung-together cliché. ‘Just hang on and we’ll get you out of there’ he hollered like a fireman in some soap opera when she confided her plight (the old hag inside etc. & how trapped she was); well, it was corny but he did look sort of gorgeous axe and all. So there she was, humming & pulling all the pins out of her chignon, throwing him all the usual lifelines till, soon, he was shimmying in & out every other day as though he owned the place, bringing her the sex manuals & skeins of silk from which she was meant, eventually, to weave the means of her own escape. ‘All very well & good,’ she prompted, ‘but when exactly?’ She gave him till well past the bell on the timeclock. She mouthed at him, hinted, she was keener than a T.V. quizmaster that he should get it right. ‘I’ll do everything in my power’ he intoned, ‘but the impossible (she groaned) might take a little longer.’ He grinned. She pulled her glasses off. ‘All the better to see you with my dear?’ he hazarded. She screamed, cut off her hair. ‘Why you’re beautiful?’ he guessed tentatively. ‘No, No, No!’ she shrieked & stamped her foot so hard it sank six cubits through the floorboards. ‘I love you?’ he came up with as finally she tore herself in two. Important notes on the poem • ‘had come to almost love her tower,’ This is not a cliché. She is expected to hate her tower, like Rapunzel, but she doesn’t she rather likes it. She’s happy in herself and is very self-contained and independent. • ‘it was corny but he did look sort of gorgeous axe and all’ This is an unconventional use of ‘corny.’ It shows her feelings towards the Prince using modern language. ‘Axe and all is a representation of electric guitar. He could be in a band – this is playing on the idea that all women are attracted to people in bands and she is in this case. • ‘she was keener than a T.V. quizmaster’ She’s became very enthusiastic, she’s encouraging/ supportive of the Prince in rescuing her. Remember T.V. quizmasters are very eager and overly keen for you to get the answer right. She’s giving the Prince all of the answers and he’s still unable to help her to escape. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSb0PFt_0x4 Important notes on the poem • ‘throwing him all the usual lifelines’ She’s helping the Prince out, throwing her hair out of the tower. • ‘So there she was, humming and pulling all the pins out of her chignon,’ It seems like she is making a lot of effort and the Prince isn’t really doing anything. Her hair might be causing her pain or she might be enjoying pulling the pins out her hair for a sense of relief as her long hair has been tied up all day. • ‘as finally she tore herself in two.’ Interests the reader as she is so frustrated that she ‘tore herself in two,’ relates back to Rumpelstiltskin. This shows her aggression and anger. It also tells us that the Prince is useless and he could not give her what she needed. Questions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Why does the poet use ‘&’ instead of using the word ‘and’? What does the poet mean when she says ‘axe and all’? How many examples of fairy tales can you see in Rapunzstiltskin? Explain what ‘he hollered like a fireman in some soap opera’ means. Explain what ‘she was keener than a T.V. quizmaster that he should get it right’ means? 6. Why do you think the maiden tore herself in two at the end of the poem? 7. Why does ‘This Prince’ have capital letters at the start of each word? What does this do to the phrase? 8. Why does Liz Lochhead use a question mark at the end of ‘I love you?’ 9. In your own words, explain how this poem is different to conventional fairy tales? 10. In your own words, explain what a cliché is and why we should avoid using them in our writing? Can you think of any examples of clichés? Glossary •alliteration Repetition of an initial consonant. •ambiguity The possibility of more than one meaning. •assonance Repetition of a vowel sound. •couplet Two successive lines of verse. •imagery The use of words to evoke pictures or images. •irony Words implying a meaning opposite to their normal meaning. •metaphor Implication of a resemblance between two different things. •mood Atmosphere, for example ‘sombre’, ‘tragic’, ‘comic’, ‘joyful’, ‘romantic’. This is different from the tone of a poem, which refers to the poet’s attitude, for example ‘bitter’, ‘angry’, ‘resentful’, ‘cynical’, ‘sad’, ‘ironic’, ‘mocking’. •pun A comic effect suggesting two meanings from one word or phrase. •rhyme A pair of words with a similar final vowel sound. •rhythm The pace at which it seems appropriate to read a poem. Many poets vary the rhythm of a poem to stress certain words and thereby make the meaning clearer. •satire The use of wit or humour to attack something. •simile A metaphor in which the similarity is expressed explicitly. •structure The division of a poem into particular lengths of lines and stanzas. Imagery • Just hang on and we’ll get you out of there’ he hollered like a fireman in some soap opera • She mouthed at him, hinted, she was keener than a T.V. quizmaster that he should get it right. Themes • Feminism • Men disappoint women - “…This Prince with absolutely all the wrong answers.“ • From the woman’s perspective - He seems to be only interested in sex, totally unaware of what the woman wants • Clichés and stereotypes – ‘This Prince’ only talks in “strung-together cliché” • “All the better to see you with my dear” • “Just hang on and we’ll get you out of there” – She is used to her isolation (“& just when our maiden had got/good & used to her isolation”) but conforms to society’s expectations – a man should come and save her Example of an essay This is a narrative poem which means that it tells a story. Liz Lochhead combines parts from the fairy stories in order to look at the relationship between men and women from a different point of view. It is a modern poem with feminist undertones. Unlike in traditional fairy tales, there is no happy ending. It ends in disappointment and disillusionment for the woman. Compared to traditional fairy stories, there is a difference in the presentation between men and women. In the modern poem, the man is the weaker character. He is treated as a 'sex object' in the poem. (Lines 17 and 18 for example). The man seems to be only interested in sex - without any commitment. He seems to be totally unaware of what the woman wants. The female character seems to be enjoying her isolation in the tower. But, she conforms to society's expectations (see lines 8 and 9 for examples). So she decides that she needs a man to help her out - just as society expects. However, she becomes increasingly frustrated by his attitude. He seems to have no idea what she wants from him. He always appears to be out of step with her. For example, he gives the right response to the question proposed. In the end, she is destroyed by her frustration The poem ‘Rapunzstiltskin’ comes under two different categories; passionate and light hearted. We can see that it is very light headed because the poems main structure is about fairy tales. Is it very informal too as we can see in the first line where it starts off with “&”. This makes it sound like we have just walked into someone’s conversation. From this we know that it is not a serious poem. The author refers many times to different fairy tales such as the lumberjack in ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, and ‘Jack and The Bean Stalk’. In the poem the author uses many sexual comments. One of these is describing something like a fireman, a fireman may be one of the most common woman fantasies . The fireman would have a big hose, and would be able to rescue the woman. We cannot take the author seriously and this proves that it is a very fun and playful poem. However, there is also plenty of passion floating around because this maiden in the poem has told herself she doesn’t need anyone, but she cannot see that she really needs to be rescued. All she needs is a Prince, but there is one problem with this prince. He is a typical man, and doesn’t know what to say and doesn’t know how to her give her what she wants. He tries to control the relationship after they have had sex .he believes that he now has the right and can do what he likes with her. All he needs to say to her is that he loves her. He makes a stab at it but fails miserably and then starts guessing. She is very frustrated and stamps her foot into the floorboards. She finally realises that she isn’t going to get what she wants. She has had enough and has lost it all now. She has put up with him so much and backed him up and helped him, but he has been an ignorant fool. All the passion has now faded away, but there was once a roaring flame in them both.