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Choose two or three of the dramatic monologues by Browning and consider the ways in which jealousy is presented.

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Introduction

Elaine Cox. Revision Essay Question. Choose two or three of the dramatic monologues by Browning and consider the ways in which jealousy is presented. The poems 'My Last Duchess', 'Porphyria's Lover' and 'The Laboratory' are three dramatic monologues, theatrical tales of bitter jealousy told by anonymous, murderous lovers. 'My Last Duchess' and 'Porphyria's Lover' use the simple idea of cruel male domination to portray the narrator's jealousy, as these two men do not know any other way of controlling their seemingly flirtatious lovers' behaviour. They try to completely possess their women as objects, and such a need for power seems to be a pure statement of irrational jealousy. The following quotations show this idea clearly and, although the later is not direct to the murder of his lover, it is plain that the narrator is cruel, objective possessiveness. "I propped her head up as before." This quotation clearly shows that Porphyria's lover did not seem to understand the full consequence of murdering this woman, an idea which is also quite apparent in my last duchess, as the Duke certainly appears to brag about his wife's flirtatious behaviour, and it stopping. Returning to the idea of cruel male domination, though, this is obviously apparent in 'My Last Duchess' when the Duke suddenly proclaims the following; "Notice Neptune, though, taming a sea-horse." ...read more.

Middle

"Even had you skill in speech (Which I have not.)" This is undoubtedly egotistical simply due to the fact that, as a reader, we know the importance of the narrator. As a Duke it is obvious that he would be well educated, and have excellent skill in speech. "That moment she was mine, mine fair." I believe this quotation is arrogant because the narrator clearly thinks that, because he has killed the woman, he has released her from her living duties, so she is now free to love only him. This seems a little pointless, as she is now dead, but perhaps to her, he was never going to be the one man she wished to spend her life with. "Not that I bid you spare her the pain." This quotation shows the vindictive and merciless nature of the narrator. She appears to think the woman her husband is having an affair with is aware of her, and is having the affair simply to irritate her. She therefore feels this woman deserves the pain, even though the affair is not to intentionally hurt anyone. The fact that the narrators remain anonymous throughout the poems is interesting. As they are so brutal and merciless, we automatically assume that they will be in control, and therefore, named. Their continued anonymity, and feelings that murder is the only answer to their problems, is a clear statement, however that they do not retain any kind of control at all. ...read more.

Conclusion

"I wound three times, her little throat around, and strangled her." Porphyria's lover strangles her to death, and then feels what he has done is acceptable when he says 'god has not said a word', which is also Browning's way of questioning religion in his poetry. "I gave commands, then all smiles stopped together." The Duke has clearly not murdered his wife himself, but ordered someone else to do so, keeping murder off his own hands, but also showing some cowardice on his part through this. "Which is the poison to poison her, prithee?" The woman has bought a poison to kill her husband's lover with, which is a typical murder weapon of women, and also the most vicious of the three murders, as it would be the most painful for the victim. Murder, therefore, is the main presentation of jealousy in the three poems, and gives us considerable insight to the point of the narrator, because the poems are dramatic monologues. The narrators cannot see that their jealousy has overridden natural behaviour because they simply couldn't control and dominate their lover's behaviour. In conclusion, therefore, jealousy is presented throughout the poems as an ultimate need for control and brutal domination, leading to the irrational behaviour of the narrators, and unprecedented murder through inability to control their own behaviour, let alone anyone else's, and of course, their own jealousy. ...read more.

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