A Minor Role

(Note that analyses can vary widely, hence these annotations must only be used in conjunction with your own analyses).

Annotations of A Minor Role by UA Fanthorpe



A Minor Role

Summary of the poem:

Title: Minor — insignificant, role — like there is a job for her to do.

Tone: 1st POV, direct speeches and italics etc. all reflect false enthusiasm. Tension at first, relaxed, and then a strong ending to give an optimistic message.

Summary: By using the metaphor of stage, the narrator attempts to reflect her life as a dying patient — everyone’s eyes seem to be on her, waiting for any sign of weakness. Hence, this societal pressure seem to force her into a false sense of happiness. Despite this, she admits that it is not better to die — ultimately the false sense of hope she gives herself may be worth it.

Structure: Mainly regular, with occasional irregularity. May reflect attempt at calm and order, but sometimes fail. Lots of enjambment and caesura. These may reflect anxiety, agitated mind, and constant action, no time to stop.

Themes: Death, Pressure,

Devices used: Extended metaphor: life as a play, and the narrator has a minor role on stage (we all play a small part and continue to pretend), caesura, verbs in the progressive present (-ing) (shows no time to reflect because dying). Imagery (semantic field of hospitals, war, funeral and stage). Intertextuality of Oedipus Rex acts as the voice of society.

Links to other poems: Please Hold (meaningless words), On Her Blindness (dealing with illness, truth vs society),


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