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‘The Love Song Of J. Alfred. Prufrock’ by T.S Eliot and ‘My Last Duchess by Robert Browning

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Introduction

Poetry Analysis Assignment Introduction I will be analysing the poems `The Love Song Of J. Alfred. Prufrock' by T.S Eliot and `My Last Duchess by Robert Browning. Both poems are dramatic monologues led by powerful narrators. T.S Eliot develops the views of Prufrock, Browning the Duke. This particular form of narrative invites us the readers to really get into the minds of the characters and explore their personalities. As they lead us through the poems Prufrock and the Duke bare their fears, weaknesses and desires to us the readers. The major techniques through which the poems are presented are remarkably similar. `The Love Song Of J.Alfred.Prufrock' is, then, a dramatic monologue. The reader is invited by Prufrock to enter his mysterious world of seduction in the opening paragraph. Prufrock leads the reader into the dodgy, seedy, dilapidated area of the inner city by night, `when the evening is spread out against the sky'. This at once introduces a sense of secrecy and sordidness as he emphasises that the streets are deserted, `through half deserted streets, the muttering retreats,' also that they are far away from the hustle and bustle of the respectable city. Prufrock invites the reader through the deserted streets, past sordid `one night cheap hotels' and past shabby restaurants. He then draws the reader away from the first location of the city streets and mentions but does not reveal for the first time his `overwhelming question' which appears to be of `insidious intent'. Prufrock then leads the reader away from the seedy streets to make his visit to the second location `the room'. `In the room the women come and go talking of Michelangelo.' This is a room possibly in a friend,s house as he is clearly there for some sort of social gathering. We know this is a social gathering by the description of women `coming and going'. The `talk of Michalangelo' is probably the idle gossip the women are indulging in. ...read more.

Middle

As well as the inexorable rejection from the woman there is also the fear of his advances being misunderstood and her not wanting a relationship after their night together. Prufrock's fears of social inadequacy, growing old and death haunt him through the poem. His fear of rejection stems from his worries of appearing old; his hair falling out and loss of youthful physique. There are many references towards death in the poem, one being, `the eternal Footman' who `holds my coat and snickers'. This quotation comes from the moment when he is in a room with the women, too scared to make his move, yet too scared to leave, for fear of people noticing his failure and talking about him; his social paranoia is again haunting him. The beach location at the end of the poem draws together many of the poem's themes. Prufrock is imagining that the mermaids' beauty and singing will lure him onto the rocks to meet his fate. This is comparable to the women carelessly flirting with him then rejecting his advances, laughing. At the end of the beach section and at the end of the poem Eliot describes how `we have lingered in the chambers of the sea by sea girls wreathed with sea weed red and brown, Till human voices wake us, and we drown.' Prufrock is relating his being surrounded by beautiful women in the room then being woken by human voices. He has not acted and asked the question, and therefore he has metaphorically `drowned,' and all has been lost. `My Last Duchess' like `Prufrock' is a dramatic monologue, led by the Duke. The Duke is the narrator in the poem; he is the central voice addressing both his visitor and us the readers. The `Last Duchess' the Duke is referring to is his last duchess, now preserved in a painting on the wall. The Duke leads his visitor to view the portrait which is hanging on a wall probably in a parlour with other portraits and seats for viewing. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Duke then begins to talk to the visitor about a dowry for his next Duchess and it becomes clear that the visitor is a match-maker who has come to arrange the marriage between the Duke and a new Duchess. When the identity of the visitor emerges, it becomes clear that the poem has been a cynical warning for the match-maker to pass on to the new Duchess about his expectations of her, how she should behave and what fate faces her is she does not. This casts a rather sinister and ominous mood over the close of the poem. The overall theme of the poem does not become clear until the end of the poem when the visitor's identity is determined as the match-maker; the idea that they are coming here together to arrange the marriage of the Duke and another Duchess then becomes apparent. It then becomes obvious that, when the Duke is talking to the match maker about his problems with his last Duchess, he is passing on a warning through the match-maker to the new Duchess that she must not behave in the same way as the last Duchess did. The Duke has made it clear that he expects the uymost respect and obedience from his new Duchess. He, after all, holds great pride in his `nine-hundred year old name' and he expects her to value this gift above all others. The Duke has certainly made it clear he will not tolerate her looking at other men or flirting with them. He approves of good manners and courtesy but not to every fool that asks for it and in his opinion he deserves to be valued the most above all others by his new Duchess. The Duke has made very clear her fate is she does not meet his expectations and behaves dishonourably; she will be put to death like his last Duchess was. The poem as a whole is therefore a warning in the most cynical, sarcastic tone for the match-maker to pass on to the new Duchess regarding her future conduct and values. ...read more.

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