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Compare the Ways in Which Pre-1914 Poets Approach the Theme of Death.

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Introduction

Compare the Ways in Which Pre-1914 Poets Approach the Theme of Death In the three poems, "To His Coy Mistress" - an argumentative yet satirical take on a man's quest for sex by Andrew Marvell, "Porphyria's Lover" and "My Last Dutchess" - Two dramatic monologues by Robert Browning, the dominating themes running parallel in each are the all powerful concepts of love and death. I have chosen to look at the way in which each poem broaches the theme of death, the context and setting in which it is used and the similarities and differences in the overall approach of the subject. Although, as in all cases, literary techniques such as punctuation, rhyme, rhythm, alliteration and assonance are used to great effect in each poem to portray the subject matter, I have chosen to explore sentiment and expression rather than technical and literal devices. I will look at the following subjects: Mood and imagery, for diverse contrasts in the setting and context of each poem; Feelings such as passion, greed, possessiveness, hate, impatience and love, which is inexorably woven into all of the aforementioned emotions; Social status, which so often in pre-1914 circumstances dictated so much of love and sociably acceptable situations and finally the general way in which each poem approaches death. ...read more.

Middle

of the poems we never hear the female response, but that the imagery serves to portray the obvious in the most dramatic way. Emotions, powerful and dominating, surface in all three poems. For example, in "Porphyria's Lover" Lust, vanity, passion and love, a mutual love for each party are represented. All these are factors that conclude in the death of Porphyria. The love and lust he has for her, his overwhelming desire to keep her at all costs and the fact that he can't have her; "Too weak, for all her heart's endeavour, To set its struggling passion free From pride, and vainer ties dissever, And give herself to me for ever." Are the reasonings behind the spontaneous actions of Porphyria's lover. Porphyria's own vanity and pride make the fact that she is strangled by her own hair ironic. This is a last resort action of a man blinded by love. As a stark variation on this reasoning, the murder in "My last Dutchess" Is no act of passion, it is a pre-meditated act of "necessity" in the eyes of the duke. The feeling that emotions are not involved here is an easy mistake to make, but there is, and surprisingly, love and passion are involved. ...read more.

Conclusion

"Porphyria's Lover" approaches death via love, an act of pure passion. Pain, suffering, revenge - none of there where meant, it was an act of unadulterated infatuation. This approach is confusing; it's not the expected expression of true love you would expect. The casual tone of the monologue is unsettling, creating atmosphere and tension, a sense of unease, uncertainty and fear, effective in portraying death in an unbefitting sense. "To His Coy Mistress" approaches death as a reasoning, an argument, a logistic. It is used as an incentive to "get a move on" as it where. But although this may seem extreme, the poem comes across as satirical. Rather than writing to his coy mistress, Marvell is mocking the male's 'all consuming' desires, by illustrating the boundaries, and crossing them. Reminding someone that their time is somewhat limited just because the remote chance of sleeping with them may occur could not have been taken seriously even then, and in a contemporary context it is just comical. Each poem shows that there are so many ways to approach death, through love, hate, fear and even satire, but it is many means to the same end. Emmy Cooper ...read more.

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