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Compare the two poem "Porphyria's Lover" and "My Last Duchess" by Robert Browning. In what ways do they form part of the literacy tradition?

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Introduction

Compare the two poem "Porphyria's Lover" and "My Last Duchess" by Robert Browning. In what ways do they form part of the literacy tradition? Tom Griffin Both poems are dramatic monologues written by Robert Browning in the nineteenth century. A dramatic monologue is a poem written showing only one point of view, which is that of the narrator, and in "My Last Duchess" it is the Duke. Browning has carried on a tradition of dramatic monologues from Shakespeare. His soliloquies in "Macbeth" when he is alone and debating whether to kill the King or not. Also Allen Bennett produced a television programme entitled "Talking Heads" which shows one person talking to a camera, which is another example of a dramatic monologue. In the opening paragraph of "Porphyria's Lover" Browning describes a storm brewing outside by using words such as "vex, sullen, spite" which personifies a storm raging in the narrators head. We tend to think Porphyria has an unreal quality as she "glided" in which suggests she is very elegant, in comparison to the storm. She then "shut the cold out and the storm, and kneeled and made the cheerless grate blaze up, and all the cottage warm." The repetition of the word "and" suggests the narrators increasingly excited state of mind as one thought runs into the next. He is like the "cheerless grate" and wants to "blaze up" when he sees Porphyria, yet his pride permits him from doing so. ...read more.

Middle

This simile is affective as it conveys that he is frightened of what he may see in those eyes; accusation, pain, fear or hate. To his delight he sees "blue eyes without a strain" this shows she does not blame him and is almost like the Duke's painting, the perfect ideal. The murderer feels he has aided Porphyria as he has freed her from society. He feels that he has made her happy as he sees the blameless "smiling rosy little head." The final justification of his crime is that "God has not said a word" and seems himself to give consent. The rhyming pattern consists of two rhyming couplets, with the final line of the poem rhyming with the previous line. This helps to emphasise key stages of the poem and builds up climax. "My Last Duchess" tells a torrid tale of a young Duchess and her megalomaniac husband. The poem is a one sided conversation between the Duke and a representative of his next bride's family. The Duke firstly shows the servant a portrait of "my last duchess." The Duchess is shown to have "depth and passion in that earnest glance". This is ironic as it is an indirect contrast to the Duke's personality. He is portrayed as a cold and shallow person. The Duke then discloses that he can only view "the curtain I have drawn for you" which conceals the painting. ...read more.

Conclusion

The cold, detached statement, "and I choose never to stoop," shows that he could bear the humiliation no longer, so "all smiles stopped together." The Duke is now in a state where he has a warped personality and arrogance as he confesses murder yet knows his treasured name is his defence. The Duchess was not to blame for her downfall, as she had to live up to the Duke's impossible ideal, which she only now fulfils in portrait. Here the writer uses a sinister euphemism to describe the Duchess as just a portrait now. The poem is written in heroic couplets, and the formal vocabulary is in keeping with the Duke's nobility yet the tone is conversational. The Duke exercises his authority yet speaks politely to the Counts' representative even though he is socially inferior. The regular rhyming pattern shows that the Duke is the stereotypical helpless husband and is in firm control of him. The sophisticated language reaches a climax when the Duke requests the dowry; "the count's known munificence is ample warrant" for a respectable dowry and a bride who likes that dowry will be his ultimate possession. There are a few comparisons between the two pieces. Firstly they both involve their partners murdering the women of the relationship. Secondly, both men are extremely jealous. They cannot bare the person they love being with anyone else that hurts them emotionally. The only way they can stop this is to kill them. ...read more.

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