Study Guide

Big Poppy Women and Femininity

By Ted Hughes

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Women and Femininity

The poppy in "Big Poppy" is very clearly a woman. Since the poppy is so intensely personified throughout the piece, there's a lot going on here that deals with the idea of women and sexuality, women and love, women and their appearances and behavior…tons of things. The poppy is given various body parts and clothing, and the way in which they interact and the way in which the speaker reacts to his own creation of these symbols make femininity one of the overarching themes of this piece.

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. What kind of effect does setting up the poppy as "Mafia Queen" have on the rest of the poem?
  2. What does this poem say, do you think, about motherhood?
  3. What do you think this poem says about what it means to be feminine?
  4. Why do you think the poppy is female in the poem and the bee is male? Why not the other way around?

Chew on This

The femininity of the poppy in "Big Poppy" seems to posit women as blithely unaware of, to the point of being passive about, their own beauty.

"Big Poppy" plays with the woman-as-flower cliché by inverting some of the gentle stereotypes that go along with that kind of image; instead, the flower is hot, fierce, and wild.

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