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Compare 'My Last Duchess' to the soliloquy in Othello (Act 5 scene 2)

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Compare the characterisations in My Last Duchess and Othello?s Soliloquy in Act 5 Scene 2, lines 1-22. How are the contrasts presented and used here to create drama and meaning; how might different audiences respond to such ideas? In both the soliloquy in Othello and in ?My Last Duchess? we see a dominance in the male character and a certain power within this over the women mentioned. Throughout the soliloquy Othello is addressing a sleeping Desdemona and the fact that she is in this setting (the bed chamber) and in such a situation gives him another level of power over her as she is faced with a certain vulnerability and lack of control over the events to come, while it also suggests an innocence in Desdemona?s character contrasting greatly with Othello?s. Similarly in ?My Last Duchess? we get arguably a larger sense of male dominance in the poem, with Browning using language and form to show this. The metaphor ?Notice Neptune though, Taming a sea-horse? suggests that the Duke is very much like Neptune in controlling the Duchess and has the arrogance that Neptune has while she is being controlled. It could possibly also be a metaphor for his future wife, much like the Duchess she will need to be controlled and obedient, and ultimately treat him like a God, which again links with the Neptune metaphor further. A further way Browning presents the Duke as a powerful, controlling man is the fact that he has been killed (ultimately by himself) ...read more.


This could also be received that by putting out the life he will be in constant darkness; to hide himself away and damning himself to hell for his villainy. This is similar with ?My Last Duchess? in the sense that Audiences at the time would see both pieces as highlighting the stereotypes of women at the time they were written. Comparing the Duchess in ?My Last Duchess? and Desdemona in Othello?s soliloquy we see a very similar stereotype being portrayed of the women in a very similar time period. We see both women being portrayed in a very promiscuous manner, however we see a difference in the two as in many ways the Duchess is less innocent than Desdemona; although we do not know the background of ?My Last Duchess? the Duke has clearly seen the felony of the Duchess through his own eyes and hasn?t taken someone else?s word for it. He has witnessed that ?her looks went everywhere? suggesting that he genuinely thought of her as committing adultery but as the audience knows of no proof of this his actions cannot be justified; we see him as a cold hearted murderer. Contrasting with this, although we know Iago played on the stereotypes of women at the time to get his revenge on Othello, there is very much less of an acknowledgement of it in the soliloquy, perhaps again proving that Othello believes her innocence. ...read more.


He feels if he kills her he will no longer have any worries and no more jealousy. The fact that this is juxtaposed (?I will kill thee?) shows that what began as appearance and stereotypes being opposite of reality ended reversed; Othello is now physically black inside and out. However, the fact that he says ?and love thee after? shows that he is still killing her out of love, although admittedly not a tender love it is still out of love and passion. Throughout the soliloquy we get the impression that Othello is still in love with Desdemona and by using natural imagery as a metaphor and to describe her further reinforces this. By saying he will ?not shed her blood nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow? we get the impression firstly that in his eyes she is still perfect, by describing her skin as ?snow? we get a sense of purity and innocence from Desdemona even from his eyes, and by saying he will not ?shed her blood nor scar? it shows to the audience that her does not want to hurt her, nor ruin the beauty that she has; he wants her to stay the pure beauty that he fell in love with. However in ?My Last Duchess? we do not see this murder out of love, but out of paranoia and jealousy. By describing her as ?a wonder now? it is suggested that the Duke prefers his Duchess in death, now that she can be entirely objectified by him and he has ultimate power over her which he didn?t before. ...read more.

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