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by Carol Ann Duffy

Wedding Paraphernalia

Symbol Analysis

This poem is filled with wedding paraphernalia (accessories). Miss Havisham's aborted wedding is the focal point of her life. Even decades after her jilting, she still wanders around her decrepit house in her wedding dress. If clothes make the (wo)man, Miss H is a pretty sad woman indeed.

  • Lines 5-7: Miss Havisham tells us of her "yellowing" wedding dress. You might see this as a symbol of her old age, her lost hopes, or her spinsterhood. She clings to the memory of her ill-fated wedding, and one way she does this is by never taking off that dress.
  • Lines 12-13: Here, our speaker says that love is nothing but veiled hate. Or does veiled hate belong to love? Either way, she's playing on the idea of a wedding veil, seeming to suggest that love is just a fiction – a beautiful veil behind which lies only hate and spite. Thanks for the uplifting sentiment, Miss H!
  • Line 14: Miss Havisham says that she stabbed at a wedding cake. Maybe she actually stabbed it, or maybe she's "given it a stab" – as in, she gave the wedding a try and failed. The wedding cake becomes a concrete symbol of her failures in love.
  • Line 15: She wants a corpse for a "long slow honeymoon." Ew. Is she talking about an actual honeymoon? Is she using a metaphor for death? Whatever it is she wants, we're sure it's not pretty. She takes the pleasant idea of a romantic getaway for newlyweds and turns it on its head.

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