‘Quickdraw’ by Carol Ann Duffy and ‘Sonnet 116’ by William Shakespeare are both very different poems but are linked by one common theme, that of a relationship between two people, although saying this the two poems are distinctly individual and are not linked in any other obvious ways.
The two differ from each other as they are written with opposite concepts, ‘Quickdraw’ based around a failing relationship with the persona mentioning fatal flaws and in ‘Sonnet 116’ Shakespeare attempts to define love, by telling both what it is and how much it means to him.
The main contrast between the poems technically is the rhyme scheme, one having a rhyme scheme and the other not. ‘Sonnet 116’ is written in the form of a traditional sonnet, meaning that the poem is fourteen lines long and is divided into three quatrains and a concluding section, a rhyming couplet. Each quatrain has an alternating rhyme scheme: ‘a,b,a,b’, ‘c,d,c,d’, and ‘e,f,e,f’. The final rhyming couplet has the rhyme scheme: ‘g,g’ and is also in iambic pentameter. I think the poet; William Shakespeare used this rhyme scheme to make the poem more uplifting and giving it a melodic tone when being read aloud where as in direct contrast ‘Quickdraw’ has a lack of rhyme scheme but does have a more unusual structure, the poem consists of multiple run on lines and two lines of the poem are placed more central to the page. Duffy may have done this to show how the persona is struggling or to create a sense of how unsure and unreliable the situation the narrator is in stands.
The tones of the poems seem to contrast but when looked at further the reader is able to realise that it is not only ‘Sonnet 116’ that has a provocative manner. Although repeated references to the West make the poem appear light in tone, ‘Quickdraw’ shows the speaker’s vulnerability as she clearly suffers at the hands of her lover and appears to come off the worse after the showdown. Duffy may have used this deceiving technique to show how a relationship has many depths and when in an argument you cannot always realise the gravity of the situation at hand. In a way this means that in dissimilarity to Shakespeare’s sonnet, which shows the poets wisdom, ‘Quickdraw’ takes more unsure approach to the way a relationship is looked at.
The use of the extended metaphor of the West in ‘Quickdraw’ may have been used by the poet to show how, just like in a Western style movie, the speaker’s relationship/ argument is built up to and the next move is unknown. Duffy also uses several words related to movement; such a ‘swirl’, ‘reel’ and ‘fumble’ to make the reader feel the unbalanced nature of the relationship. It also links the modern day need for mobile phones with the need Western cowboys had for a gun and also shows that the narrator’s lover is using it as a weapon in order to emotionally hurt the persona.
Duffy’s poem is written as an anecdote, telling the story of the speaker’s argument with her partner. This enables the reader to relate to the situation easier and, unlike Shakespeare’s sonnet, the poem is less demanding in order to be understand. This may also be due to the diction that is used in each poem, due to the time period in which it was written in ‘Sonnet 116’ is harder for modernised readers to completely understand meaning ‘Quickdraw’ takes the upper hand.
One of the main features of ‘Sonnet 116’ is the repetition; Shakespeare probably used this repetition to create rhythm. As previously mentioned the poem has a tuneful pattern to it and this could be a contributing factor. During ‘Quickdraw’ Duffy uses alliteration to create a sense of rhythm and also to reach the climax of a line. Duffy also uses repetition, but unlike Shakespeare, it is only truly used at the end of the poem. I believe this adds closure and also shows that the argument the narrator is having with her partner is not actually over.
In conclusion I think these two poems are particularly different but due to the common theme can easily be compared against one another to show the poets’ different views on relationships.