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How do the poems you have studied portray women? Refer to at least two poems in detail.

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Introduction

How do the poems you have studied portray women? Refer to at least two poems in detail. Within the five poems we have studied, 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci', 'Lady of Shalott', 'My last duchess', 'Porphyria's lover' and 'Marianna'. Women are portrayed as weak characters with no voice. All of these poems are seen through the eyes of men, who accuse them of being self-centred and lacking in morals. However, these judgements can be placed upon the men themselves. The social/historical position of women during the nineteenth century can be identified within the poems. Browning's dramatic monologues in particular show women's lack of voice and dependency on men during the eighteen hundreds. Showing both women as possessions of men. The powerlessness of women is shown within Tennyson's poems; 'Mariana' and ' The Lady of Shalott'. 'Mariana' wastes her life because of a man and the 'The Lady of Shalott' looses her life due to Sir Lancelot. However, in Keats' poem 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci", the balance of power changes. ...read more.

Middle

Keats portrays 'La belle dame' in a negative light, as a character who distrusts and mistreats the knight. Perhaps this expresses keats' feelings towards women, however he creates separate characters with different personalities. Although 'La belle dame' is described as a beautiful mythical creature she uses the knight and leaves him to die. In the last three stanzas of the poem the knight describes the sight of dead men on the ' cold hill side' who have also been enthralled by the 'faery's child'. Her kind words and beauty tricked the knight along with the other men. The title 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' - the beautiful women without mercy highlights this. The knight in some ways can be seen as being portrayed negatively. Keats portrays men as being superficial human beings who fall for the beauty of woman. The knight is fooled by the 'faery's child' exterior failing to see her deceitful character. Women are seen as dangerous seducers of simple-minded men. Browning's poem 'Pophyria's lover.' Is a dramatic monologue, in which we see everything from the speaker's point of view; as in 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci'. ...read more.

Conclusion

This describes her pride as being overwhelming as if she is incapable of loving others as she is too in love with herself. When 'Pophyria's lover' believes he has achieved a moment when she adores him he kills her. This shows that he believes he has reached a point where he has the power over her not vice- versa. In all the poems the balance of power is different. Even though, it appears as if the poets are showing the greatness of men over women they in fact agree that women should be treated as mans equal. Browning shows how the fictional power possessed by a male tyrant can easily cause the death of a women, this is shown in both his dramatic monologues. Although, all the women within the poems die the poets show a sense of hidden power within all the characters excluding Tennyson's depiction of Marianna. Their lack of voice shows the lack of respect shown towards the female characters. Only in 'La belle dame sans merci' is the female treated with a vague amount of admiration, however she is perceived as the most deceitful and untrustworthy of the five women. ...read more.

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