Pilate S Wife Analysis Essay

Pontius Pilate

Figure Analysis

Claim to fame: Has the power to pardon Jesus. Like Herod, also fails.

Even though Pilate is actually the one who sentences Jesus to die, he tends to get off pretty light in all the gospel accounts. Matthew mainly puts the blame on Judas and the blood-thirsty crowd that's egged on by the religious authorities. Yet somehow, the guy actually ordering the crucifying gets off scot-free. That's kind of weird….

He's the Decider

In Matthew's Gospel, the religious authorities hand Jesus over to Pilate to seal the deal. The trouble is, Pilate can't quite figure out what Jesus has done wrong. In fact, he seems a lot more impressed with Jesus than the Jewish people do:

  • "The governor was greatly amazed" (27:14).
  • "[Pilate] realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over" (27:18).
  • "He asked, 'Why, what evil has he done?'" (27:23)

Even Pilate's wife gets in on the action. In a short little aside, unique to Matthew, she tells him, "have nothing to do with that innocent man," and explains that she had a dream totally exonerating Jesus (27:19). Dream hints again. Pilate knows what to do, right?

We Predict a Riot

Not quite. Even though Pilate clearly doesn't want to put Jesus to death, he starts to get a little worried about the unrest in the crowd. In fact, a riot is starting to break out (27:24). In the end, Pilate decides that it will be much easier to just to crucify Jesus and make the crowd happy. After all, he's just an insignificant Jewish peasant, right?

Pilate does something that only happens in Matthew: he washes his hands (27:24). Literally. He gets out a big bowl of water, dips his hands in, and basically tells the crowd: This is totally on you guys. Way to dodge responsibility, Pilate.

Essentially, Pilate's role in the story is to vouch for Jesus's credibility and to highlight just how awful the religious authorities truly are. But is that what really happened?

More Than Meets the Eye

But Pilate isn't just a stock literary bad guy. He's also a very real person, who actually served as the Roman governor of Judea from 26 to 36 CE and sentenced Jesus to death (source). And though he comes off as sort of a nice guy in Matthew's Gospel, in reality, he was anything but.

Pilate managed to keep rule over the Judean province for ten years, but his relationship with the Jewish people was often strained. The Jewish historian, Josephus, tells us that Pilate repeatedly tried to put Roman emblems in the temple (a violation of Jewish law because they commemorated other gods). That didn't make for very happy subjects.

Another Jewish historian, Philo, wrote that Pilate "was a man of a very inflexible disposition, and very merciless as well as very obstinate" (On the Embassy to Gaius, 38:301). Not exactly a ray of sunshine. He was ultimately removed from Judea by the Roman Emperor after he ordered some powerful Samaritans to be killed.

Would the real Pilate have given a second thought about sentencing Jesus to death? Maybe. If his relationship with the Jewish authorities was hostile, he might have refused to play a part in their little game. He does what he does because he can see that the crowd isn't going to give up and that they might even turn violent. After all, they outnumber him and his job is to keep the peace. Why not just execute this guy and get it over with? Pilate takes the easy way out.

Carol Ann Duffy Poetry

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Joined: 05 Nov 2015
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Posted: 5 Nov 15 (17:22)    Post subject: Carol Ann Duffy Poetry

Kia ora annayoyo

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In the poems ‘Little Red Cap’ and ‘Pilate's Wife’ written by Carol Ann Duffy language techniques were used to stir the reader's emotions through the ideas Men have greater Power over women and Corrupt leadership. Duffy has used techniques such as diction, alliteration and metaphors to do this. Duffy presents these ideas in these texts to deepen the audience's understanding of feminist revisionism and how men have always been the leading voice in society.

Little Red Cap is a feminist revisionist retelling of the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood. IN this poem, Carol Ann Duffy uses diction and metaphor to argue that men have greater power over women in society. Diction is used when the wolf calls Little Red ‘Little Girl’. This shows that the wolf has power over ‘Little Red’ because he is talking down to her and treating her as if she is a child. It shows this because it makes the reader think that Little Red has little knowledge about the wolf and no experience. The wolf calling Little Red, Little Girl stirs the reader's emotions because the wolf comes across patronising. This use of diction is important because it shows that the wolf words have power over Little Red therefore making them the male wolf the stronger character and voice in the poem.
Alliteration is then used when Duffy writes, ‘The Wolf, I knew, would lead me deep into the woods’. This is said by Little Red. It shows that the wolf is dominating Little Red because he is in control leading her into an unfamiliar and new environment. This use of alliteration stirs the reader’s emotions because it adds a sense of danger to the wolf's character, because Little Red seems vulnerable and we see that she has little control over what might happen. This is important because it reinforces the idea that men have greater control over women in society because the wolf is in control of Little Red.
Both these examples of diction and alliterations illustrates the idea, men have greater power of women in society through the wolf dominating Little Red and being in control of her decisions. Duffy’s purpose is to highlight this idea through feminist voice in literature in order to help the reader understand the importance of changing society so that there is no more dominant or powerful gender in society.
We as women in society must remember that men are still the dominant gender in society and therefore have the louder voice. This means that we must be aware of the power that our voices and actions in order to speak up in society and have equal power in society.

In the poem Pilate’s Wife, a feminist revision of the biblical narrative about Jesus’ Crucifixion and the roles that Pontius Pilate played in this. The poem is written from the perspective of Pilate's Wife. Duffy has highlighted the idea of corrupt leaders through the motif of hands, which is shown through the language techniques alliteration and diction.

Alliteration is used in the first stanza when Pilate’s Wife describes her husband's hands, “his camp hands clapped for grapes”. This line has a sharp ‘k’ sound which makes the reader sense Pilate’s Wife’s disdain for her husband. Her disdain is then further reflected through use of the words ‘camp hands’. By doing this she is comparing Pilate to a gay or a woman in order to put him down and make him seem weak. This is important because it shows that Pilate is a lazy and corrupt leader because his hands are not rough or brown ‘workman's’ hands meaning he does not do any hard work. It also shows that Pilate is lazy because he cannot even fetch his own grapes. This use of alliteration stirs the reader’s emotions because we begin to understand that Pilate may not be a good leader or person because he is described negatively by his own wife. Diction is then used to compare Pilate and Jesus through the motif of hands, when Pilate's Wife says, “his brown hands touched me”. The description of Jesus’ hands being brown tells us that Jesus’ is a decent male leader because we see that he is a hard worker and his hands are rough from toiling and working outdoors. Duffy uses this description of Jesus’ hands make a comparison between Pilate and Jesus. From this we see that Pilate is a corrupt leader because unlike Jesus, his hands are described as weak and compared to a woman’s. This stirs the reader's emotions because we feel unsettled because Pilate has power over Jesus and the features of his hands reflect that he will make bad decisions. Finally, diction is a technique used to describe Pilates Hands in the final stanza when Duffy writes “and slowly washed his useless perfumes hands”. In the original tale, Pontius Pilate has decided to crucify Jesus and let the thief go in order to please the Jewish Leaders. This emphasises that Pilate is corrupt leader because he made the decision in order to secure his power. He washes his hands to free himself from the sin that he has made and to show the crowd that he is no longer in charge or control of what will happen to Jesus. Duffy has used this piece of diction to stir the reader's emotions because we feel bad for Jesus because he is innocent, and we free hatred towards Pilate because he is crucifying Jesus for his own benefits.
Duffy has used these three techniques to empower the motif of hands and how it shows the idea of corrupt leadership in the poem. Duffy is communicating this idea to the reader in order for us to understand how corrupt leaders will make the wrong decisions in order to secure and maintain their power and for their own benefits. We must also understand that even in our world today we are surrounded and controlled by corrupt leader. An example of this is in North Korea, where KIm Jung Un restricts the Korean people from equal lifestyles as well as isolating them from the modern world, through entertainment, travel, trade and more.

Carol Ann Duffy reinforced the fight for feminism is far from over and that we must fight for equal power and correct leadership. We learn through the poems ‘Little Red Cap’ and ‘Pilate’s Wife’ that men having greater power over women and corrupt leadership is ever present in our society. Duffy stirs the reader's emotions by showing us the control that men continue to have over the actions of women and how this can cause them to be belittling as well as how corrupt leaders decisions are based upon maintaining power, earning respects and benefits from themselves. This means that they may make wrong and harmful decisions. We learn that as women and as a society we must fight for equal power between genders and fair leadership in order to evolve and improve our society.
 Topic: Carol Ann Duffy Poetry
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Joined: 05 Oct 2005
Posts: 3179

Posted: 6 Nov 15 (11:59)    Post subject:

Kia ora annayoyo

Thanks for posting your essay. It is important to post the exact words of the essay too. Several times you use the phrase 'stir emotions'. even if this comes from the question it is better to specifically state the emotions you are talking about. Good use of the word patronising - now you can tell us how that makes the reader feel.

This is a long essay - you could have a more concise writing style to help cut down the word count and get to the point quicker. Overall, this is a strong essay, great texts and good analysis.

 Topic: Carol Ann Duffy Poetry

Joined: 05 Nov 2015
Posts: 2

Posted: 6 Nov 15 (13:36)    Post subject:

can you please let me know what grade I would get for this? thanks

We don't grade essays - just feedback for you and next steps.
ET5 :D
 Topic: Carol Ann Duffy Poetry
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