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Valentine Summary & Analysis
by Carol Ann Duffy

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“Valentine” is a free verse dramatic monologue written by Scottish poet, author, and playwright Carol Ann Duffy. The speaker presents their lover with a valentine in the form of an onion, then explains the reasoning behind this unusual gift. In doing so, the speaker critiques traditional, idealized images of love and argues for more complete and honest portrayals of its effects. Like much of Duffy’s work, this poem employs plain, straightforward language and uses the dramatic monologue mode to amplify a perspective that is usually sidelined from mainstream discourse. “Valentine” was first published in Duffy’s 1993 poetry collection, Mean Time.

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