• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Analyse the Different Forms of Power Presented in "My Last Duchess", "A Woman to Her Lover" and "La Belle Dame sans Merci"

Extracts from this document...


Analyse the Different Forms of Power Presented in "My Last Duchess", "A Woman to Her Lover" and "La Belle Dame sans Merci" Love poetry has existed for centuries; it takes many forms ranging from Shakespeare's sonnets and dream visions from Chaucer to medieval ballads and feminist statements. As well as poetry, love comes in many forms as well. Amongst the three love poems examined in this essay, the theme of male or female power in relationships pervades throughout. The main forms that we see in the poems are unrequited love, romantic love and possessive love. The poems we are looking at are very varied, 'My last Duchess' by Robert Browning, which gives an insight to possessive love. The next poem, "A woman to her lover" has a totally different attitude, where women and men share equal power. Finally, 'La Belle Dame sans Merci' is written by John Keats, it portrays a relationship where the woman is in control and the male is inferior which is in total contrast to "My last Duchess". This poem is in the form of a ballad. Browning's "My Last Duchess" is in the form of a dramatic monologue it is spoken by the Duke of Ferrara. Within this poem, the Duke conveys megalomaniac inclinations towards his late wife and also shows how he feels that his title gives him an automatic power over her. ...read more.


The reader also realises that the poetic voice in "A woman to her lover" believes that equality between the two sexes is vital to insure the smooth running of a relationship. It is ironic that in "My last duchess" it was the equality that the Duke and the Duchess had between them which was the problem in their relationship. The reader always feels that the poetic voice is very self-assured and confident. In the opening line she says "Do you come to me to bend me to your will". Here she directly addresses the reader, which in this case is her lover. In 18th century Britain, it would have been shocking for a woman to speak to a man in such a discourteous manor - let alone publish her own material; this shows her bold and audacious nature. Her strong character is amplified by her use of powerful vocabulary, for instance, words like "bend", "bondslave" and "drudgery", show her fearless character and also how strongly she wants equality. Her tone and register is very similar to the Duke's, as they are both confident, dominating and come across as very powerful. However the power they display isn't their true nature, which is another parallel between the two characters. The Duke may appear to be powerful, but through a closer inspection we see his insecurity, and for the most part of the poem the woman may appear to be controlling but at the end she reveals her true self. ...read more.


As all Greek myths had an underlying story or message, in the case of the sirens it was a warning that women can be sly and manipulative towards men's sexual weaknesses. The story of the knight and the Faery conveys the same message, and displays how women are not necessarily weaker than men, contrary to the stereotype at the time. The love in this poem is described very negatively. As we see the man tortured by love and is left on 'a cold hill side', we see the very damaging effect love had on him, from this we could say that yes it was presented entirely negatively but it was not. In the middle of the poem we actually see blissful love as the man was blinded by the amazing love he felt for the woman, 'and nothing else saw all day long'. In conclusion we can see that the idea of feminist power and dominance exists in all of them. However each writer portrays women and their power in different ways - Browning depicts them as inferior to men, Walsh seeks to show the competence of women while the woman in Keats' poem possesses supernatural powers. The main thing that the three poems teach us is that the role of the sexes in a relationship can change, depending on the type and amount of power they posses - the male can be the one who is trapped and exploited while the women emerges as the dominant one. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 Amir Ashrafi ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Love Poetry section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Love Poetry essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Compare and contrast how the writers of "My Last Duchess" and "Remember" portray different ...

    5 star(s)

    He sees an insult to his pride in what are really only natural behaviours in a young carefree woman. Lines " 'twas not / Her husband's presence only, called that spot / Of joy into the Duchess' cheek" suggest

  2. Compare the language and form used to express lost love in 'La Belle Dame ...

    He uses the word 'cold' twice, directly after each other, which implicates his 'cold' and broken heart. It sets the tone as being depressing and lonely. This feeling of 'coldness' appears several times throughout the poem, with words such as, 'chill' and 'shudder'.

  1. Lord Byron's 'When we two parted' and John Keats' 'La Belle Dame sans Merci' ...

    The supernatural elements of the poem, such as the fairy and food from heaven make the poem more haunting, and mysterious yet at the same time somewhat enchanting and enthralling. Keats uses simple yet effective language to describe the events and emotions in the poem.

  2. Compare How Keats And Cooper-Clarke Show The Different Attitudes To Love In 'La Belle ...

    However, his words are obsessive and hint at infatuation and not love. I can find no obvious setting in Cooper-Clarke's poem 'I wanna...' that may suggest that he believes that love is nothing fixed as it remains constant wherever you may go.

  1. Compare 'My last Dutchess', 'Porphyria's Lover', 'How do i love thee', 'La Belle Dame ...

    Lastly, the Duke finally allows the listener to rise and "meet the company below". He was referring to his servants and Robert Browning still stresses the point of his wealth and power over his household. By showing the last Duchess' painting, could it be that the Duke will repeat the marriage to his new wife-to-be?

  2. The two poems, "First Love," by John Clare and "La Belle Dame Sans Merci," ...

    that also appears to be under a spell: "For sidelong would she bend, and sing A faery's song." The mention of faery's suggests something supernatural, as fairies are small creatures, which possess magical power, which could be used to put someone under a spell like in the poem.

  1. Hearts and Partners.

    The poet has a good sense of humour, and his wry comments as the anecdote progresses show an unabashed delight in recounting the openly sexual intentions of the man, the woman's cunning and also her vulgarity. Read the poem so that you become acquainted with the tone and the outcome of the events in it.

  2. The two poems which I shall analyse and explore are, "Shall I compare thee ...

    Also, a more obvious feature is that ballads were usually written in four line stanzas with much repetition as there is in "La Belle De Sans Merci." Many lines are repeated, much for emphasis for example, "And no birds sing..."

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work