"Warming Her Pearls " by Carol Ann Duffy is a poem which examines the relationship that the narrator, a maid, shares with her employer whom she refers to as her mistress. This poem is particularly interesting due to it's effective ambiguity. The maid is living with an unhealthy obsession towards her mistress. This profound fixation develops a blurred line between love and hate for the mistress. The ambivalence in her own mind is what makes this poem particularly fascinating and mysterious to readers because it is relatively unclear what her intense feelings truly mean. The reader is left wondering if the maid feels an unrequited lust for the woman that she works for, or if she just seethes with jealousy, seeking revenge on a woman who is stratospheres above her in the social hierarchy. .
Every day the maid has a particularly peculiar task; she is to wear her mistresses' cool pearl necklace during the day so that they are warm enough for the mistress to wear out to the ball that evening, where the mistress ultimately hopes to find herself a suitor. The maid's feelings towards this chore are perplexing. When she states "All day I think of her, resting in the Yellow Room, contemplating silk or taffeta, which gown tonight? She fans herself whilst I work willingly, my slow heat entering each pearl. Slack on my neck, her rope. " (4-8). The reader is left to contemplate the maid's intent when she speaks of "her rope ". On one hand, she could easily be referring to the fact that she is the employee who works hard throughout the course of the day while her mistress lays around idly, who has not a care in the world aside from her evening ball. The "rope " could potentially symbolize the fact that the maid feels like a slave being held on to by a rope. The rope is the authority and power that the mistress has, technically owning her, as the maid is wearing her prized necklace. It could serve as a strong metaphor symbolizing her permanent and lowly station in life, who's line of work is to wait on the commands of somebody else.