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Characterisation - My Last Duchess

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Introduction

Browning's dramatic monologue My Last Duchess creates a detailed characterisation of the Duke. Analyse the way characterisation is used in this poem and compare it to at least one other in the selection. Browning's "My Last Duchess" draws the reader into a masterfully crafted, multi-faceted, dramatic monologue in which the speaker, the Duke speaks directly to the reader, and used to reveal his mannerisms. Characterisation is revealed via Browning's vivid and violent imagery coupled with metaphors and enjambment. "Porphyria's Lover" is another such poem (also by Browning) which utilises a dramatic monologue to depict a disturbing story. However in this gives the reader a dramatic insight into the twisted mind of an abnormally possessive lover, who wishes the moment of love to last forever. At the start of this poem the Duke comes across as a person of intelligence, poise, breeding and manners. If we delve deeper into both the title and the first 4 lines, however, we find our first curious passages: That's my last duchess painted on the wall,Looking as if she were alive. I callThat piece a wonder, now;Fra Pandolfs handsWorked busily a day, and there she stands.(lines 1-4) ...read more.

Middle

More so in "Porphyria's Lover". The lines do not employ end-stops; sentences and other grammatical units do not necessarily conclude at the end of lines. This happens more so in "Porphyria's Lover". The lover describes Porphyria removing her wet hat, "untied/ Her hat and let the damp hair fall". The use of enjambment here gives the image of her long blonde hair falling from beneath her hat. This is effective because it gives the reader the image of her hair moving out of position. Because the Duke is relating the story we may see his morally derelict character through his speech and dialect. In lines 8-21 it is revealed that that the expression and flush on the face of the duchess in the painting was a reflection of "passion" and "joy", primal and earthy emotions to which the well-bred Duke is unaccustomed to expressing openly. The manifestation of these emotions in the painting, however, was not instilled solely by her husband, the Duke, but also by the comments of the artist, Fra Pandolf. In "My Last Duchess" Browning use diminutive language to describe the way the Duke behaves. ...read more.

Conclusion

The speaker in 'Porphyria's Lover' loved Porphyria a lot and spoke fondly of her, Characterisation revealed many of their similar traits. such as obsession, possessiveness and a need for control over people. The Duke was unable to "tame" and control his wife and the lover was unable to possess Porphyria and these common characteristics of the two speaker's lead to the death of their loved ones. The main contrast was the social status of the speakers. The Duke was very wealthy, lived in a mansion and was of high social status, whereas Porphyria's lover was not particularly rich and lived in a small cottage. Some of their personality traits also differed. The Duke was more arrogant and full of pride and I think this was due to his wealth. however the Duke was not always as kind about his wife, and often spoke negatively about her. They also had similar traits such as obsession, possessiveness and a need for control over people. The Duke was unable to "tame" and control his wife and the lover was unable to possess Porphyria and these common characteristics of the two speaker's lead to the death of their loved ones. ...read more.

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