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Compare and contrast, My Last Duchess and Porphyria's Lover commenting on content, style and form. What do they reveal about attitudes to women and relationships in the Nineteenth Century

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Compare and contrast, My Last Duchess and Porphyria's Lover commenting on content, style and form. What do they reveal about attitudes to women and relationships in the Nineteenth Century Robert Browning was one of the greatest poets of the Nineteenth Century. He was an English poet who was especially noted for his dramatic monologues. During the Nineteenth Century, Robert Browning wrote a series of poems. Two of which were popular, "My Last Duchess" and "Porphyria's Lover". These two monologues have similar themes; how men treated women, possession, control, jealousy and other ideas. I will compare and contrast the two poems in my essay, "Porphyria's Lover" where Browning gives you an insight into the mind of Porphyria's possessive lover and "My Last Duchess" where the Duke reveals to the reader a painting of his Last Duchess together with the hidden cruelty that comes with it. Robert Browning specifically chose the form of dramatic monologue in both poems, as his goal was to illustrate a scene told by one character. The monologues he wrote have been made more interesting with the speaker's words unintentionally providing a revelation of the character or themselves. In "My Last Duchess", obviously it is the fact that Duke Ferrara had killed the Duchess deliberately. ...read more.


"In one long yellow string I wound Three times her little throat around." The time in which these poems were set is reflected in the narrator's attitude to women. The Nineteenth Century was a time when men were the strong dominating sex who believed they should have all the control. Women were expected to stay at home and care for the family. In "My Last Duchess", you can clearly see the arrogance the Duke has and how highly important he thinks he is and the Duke wouldn't accept that the Duchess thought differently. "as if she ranked my gift of a nine-hundreds-year-old name with anybody's gift" The Duke thinks that his title should be enough to impress the Duchess but its value is the same as anybody's gift. Robert Browning uses many different linguistic devices to create different effects and can also help us understand the narrator more. "Porphyria's Lover" shows uses of repetition. "That moment she was mine, mine fair perfectly pure and good" Repetition is used here to show the narrator's relief after killing Porphyria and his achievement of finally having her to himself. "My Last Duchess" also uses repetition. Words like "taming" and "lessoned" are used often, which give us an insight into what he expected of her. ...read more.


In the beginning of "Porphyria's Lover", pathetic fallacy is used to relate the weather outside with the man's mood. "It tore elm tops down for spite and did its worst to vex the lake". Negative words such as "spite" and "cheerless" are added to description to make sure the reader understands the events coming are going to be bad. Personification is also added here to add depth to the poem. "The sullen wind was soon awake". The mix of the fast rhythm and enjambment in "My Last Duchess" shows quite urgent movement from point to point. The narrator doesn't dwell on anything. This shows how the Duke has a build up of emotions and wants to get all his thoughts out at once. Men and women were treated in very different ways in the Renaissance period and Robert Browning tries to capture the thoughts men had then of women. In "Porphyria's Lover", the murder was more an act of love and madness. In contrast to this, in "My Last Duchess", the Duke kills the Duchess to prevent anymore shame being brought to him. I believe the most effective poem between the two I have compared is "My Last Duchess" because it truly shows how most men thought of women. Men treated them as possessions to keep and use for whatever they needed them for. By Bethany Stanley 1 ...read more.

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