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Compare and contrast Browning's portrayal of the protagonists in 'Porphyria's Lover' and 'My Last Duchess'.

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Introduction

Compare and contrast Browning's portrayal of the protagonists in 'Porphyria's Lover' and 'My Last Duchess'. The Last Duchess and Porphyria are both illustrations of how women who do not conduct themselves in socially acceptable ways, or exhibit behaviour deplorable towards their lovers, are mistreated and eliminated. Although the settings of these dramatic monologues are centuries apart, through reading the 'sub-text' it is possible to identify that several aspects of human nature hardly change at all and to uncover many unpalatable truths about the male protagonists and their treatment of their partners. The impression we are given is that the Duchess was relatively young and inexperienced as the wife of a man holding such rank and responsibility. The Duke states her to be; ' ... too soon made glad, Too easily impressed'. The Duke saw the Duchess's flirtatious behaviour towards other men as unacceptable behaviour for his wife. ...read more.

Middle

Not behaving in a way befitting the Victorian ideal of women would have been cause for some people in her society to think that Porphyria was in part responsible for what happened to her. Throughout both poems, the male protagonists are extremely possessive of their partners. In 'Porphyria's Lover' the male protagonist views his partner as too weak; 'Too set its struggling passion free From pride, and vainer ties dissever'. Here the vainer ties could symbolise Porphyria's family. As she is an upper class woman in the 1860's, it would not have been allowed by her family for her to become in any way romantically attached to someone of an inferior position in social rank. However the Lover has it in mind that she is too weak to leave her family. He wants her to be confined to his structured code and for her to do whatever he expects of her. ...read more.

Conclusion

In his opinion the Duchess had no business to look at other men however she did anyway. This led the Duke to be controlling over her even after her death; '(since none puts by The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)' The Duke is possessive out of jealousy. He considers that the wife of a Duke should behave in a fitting manner and act just as a duchess should. She is the property of him and be supremely devoted to him and only him. This type of possessiveness is based purely on the fact that she is his wife. Whoever he had as a wife he would be jealous and domineering towards. This serves as a contrast to 'Porphyria's lover' where the prime reason for the Lovers possessiveness stems from his love of her. He can't comprehend being without her and is jealous that she can be with her family but yet not with him. ...read more.

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