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Compare and contrast "My Last Duchess" and "Porphyria" by Robert Browning.

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Introduction

GCSE Coursework - Poetry Comparison Compare and contrast "My Last Duchess" and "Porphyria" by Robert Browning. Robert Browning was one of the great poets of the Victorian age. He lived in the 19th Century from 1812-1889. Robert Browning wrote a large number of dramatic monologues, which were one of the very few types of evening entertainment in the 19th Century. The aim of a dramatic monologue is to see events from the character's point of view, as it is set in the 1st person perspective of the lead character. This viewpoint helps reveal and give the listener insight into the character's behaviour. In the following text I shall be comparing and contrasting the monologues: "My Last Duchess" and "Porphyria's Lover". Both poems show different perspectives of a psychopath and the way each attempts to gain total control over their lovers. Although both poems contain the same subject matter, the settings are very different indeed. The poem My Last Duchess (MLD) has a very formal and almost regal presentation. MLD is set in the grounds of a stately home belonging to a very pompous and arrogant duke that has a sinister philosophy to life, which is revealed later on in the poem. ...read more.

Middle

With the duke this is largely due to his own arrogance that he believes he has the power to do anything because of his '900-year-old name,' but with the lover, Browning portrays the character so that the reader does not quite know whether the lover knows the difference between right or wrong. The lover did kill but he killed so emotionlessly, that we do not know if he should be condemned or committed. This is where there is a major difference between the poems. The duke appears to kill for the dowry of his bride, whereas the lover kills as he feels it is the only possible way to preserve the love his lover feels for him. They are both crimes of passion, but one is a crime of greed and the other is a crime of love. Another similarity of the men is the desire to have total control over their lover. This lust of possessiveness is an extremely common trait in psychopaths and helps give us an insight into each of the character's motives for the crime. The lover gains control of his partner by cutting her head off. ...read more.

Conclusion

sensuously and in a more seductive manner with a certain teasing grace that compels her lover to commit the crime, 'she put my arm about her waist and made her smooth white shoulder bare'. In all, the poems seem to follow the same basic structure of an obsessive psychopath who due to the desire to utterly possess their lover finds a way to preserve a perfect memory in death. Both poems follow the same structure but diverge from each other in the forms of setting and motive. I believe that 'My Last Duchess' is the more powerful of the two poems as it involves a more subtle plot that is revealed more gradually through the poem and the machiavellian villain of the duke is quite disturbing as he has no remorse and is impenitent about his crime as he believes that his '900 year old name' and aristocratic upbringing justify his amoral behaviour, whereas in 'Porphyria's Lover', the lover simply commits a crime of passion, for love not money, and I believe he deserves a certain aspect of pity from the modern reader instead of the mingled revulsion and admiration felt by the reader for the duke Ben Bowden 10C 1,505 Words ...read more.

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