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Analyse the different forms of power presented in My Last Duchess, A Woman to Her Lover and La Belle Dame Sans Merci

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Introduction

Poetry Year 10 Coursework Analyse the different forms of power presented in My Last Duchess, A Woman to Her Lover and La Belle Dame Sans Merci Before the First World War that began in 1914 power was viewed differently than it is today. One example of this is the power of men over women. Today, we live in a society of equality between men and women but pre 1914, when the poems were set, men were viewed as leaders over the women and many men believed that women were to be their 'objects'. There were many different views on power and who God had given power to. In their poems Browning, Walsh and Keats take advantage of this by employing a large variety of techniques to display this indecision within the nation. The culture alone made power such a disputed subject. The main types of power that need to be discussed are patriarchal power and hierarchal power. There are many types of power presented in the poem My Last Duchess. It was set in Italy in the seventeenth century and was written by Robert Browning. The main form of power revealed in the poem is possessive power. This is clearly indicated within the title 'My Last Duchess.' The Duke uses the word 'my' which gives the impression that he believes that he owns his wife; he believes that his wife is his possession and she is under his control. This is also shown as he says, 'Will't you please sit and look at her?' ...read more.

Middle

Moreover, she also defies sexual power by making constant references to her body. This again draws to the point that she wants equality, not power but by using this technique power is shown. This is totally different to My Last Duchess as in that poem the Duke is fighting for patriarchal power whereas in A Woman to Her Lover the poet is trying to defy it. The language also shows that she has equality in power as it uses pairs of ideas such as, 'live and work' and 'love and die.' This shows that she is in control over her language just as a man would, declaring that they are equal and that women have as much power as men. Finally, she has the power to command, 'Go.' She is asserting her power by ordering men about which creates a sense of tension as it would not be thought that men would stand for women having power. Her aim is to defy masculine power and gain equality for women. Social and historical context also plays a part in the presentation of power. My Last Duchess and A Woman to Her Lover were both written in the same time period meaning that both poems were written in a time when men were considered to be above women. The feminist movement, which occurred from 1840 onwards, was about women who wanted equal rights to men. This is a clear example of patriarchal power as men did not expect the women to be so assertive due to the patriarchal power stereotype. ...read more.

Conclusion

Despite this being a Victorian poem, there are elements of mythology. The siren, where females seduce and have power over men is reflected in this poem, creating an image of female power. The historical context can be very important when studying the techniques in which power is created. Comparisons and contrasts can be drawn between this poem and others in the collection. This is the most matriarchal poem seen so far and their views on the distribution of power. My last Duchess had a very patriarchal view, with men powerful over women. This poem, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, is totally the opposite with a matriarchal view whilst A women to her lover is very neutral. This poem could be viewed as an answer to the Dukes demands for another wife. It could be a warning. Lastly, throughout the three poems women are trying to defeat men and finally in this poem men are emasculated. In conclusion there are many ways in which power is presented throughout the three poems. Every poem successfully creates a sense of power using variety of techniques and methods. However, I believe that La Belle Dame Sans Merci is the best at portraying power as it uses many forms of power devised from a combination of language methods, structure of the poem and historical content and uses the power to make the poem have a dramatic effect. They range for every variation in the target to be presented and different techniques create different forms of tensions and emotions. In their poems Browning, Walsh and Keats use a wide range of techniques to portray power.. All three poems reflect the relationship hierarchy within the time period and use the technique of power to their full advantage. ...read more.

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