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Comparing 'My Last Duchess' & 'Porphyria's Lover'Poetry Coursework

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Introduction

Comparing 'My Last Duchess' & 'Porphyria's Lover' Poetry Coursework By Louise Sophocleous Robert Browning was writing in the Victorian period and is known chiefly for his dramatic monologues which were poems with a specific protagonist speaking mostly to a specific auditor in a dramatic situation. These two poems are good examples of dramatic monologues whereby a setting is conveyed to make atmosphere. In my last Duchess a distinct sense of place and time helps to recreate the drama to make the audience feel more involved in the poem. However Porphyria's lover is less distinct. The details of time and place are vague and this helps to focus the readers mind on the drama of the action. In both poems a central character discusses the murder of their wife or lover. In the poems it is through their descriptions of this action that the characters are conveyed. In Porphyria's lover the mans character and presence appears concealed in a state of limbo until Porphyria arrives 'I listened with heart fit to break' this gives an impression that he is obsessive about Porphyria and has no control over his life. ...read more.

Middle

The duke wishes for total control and is happier revealing a painting of his last wife than her reality. He makes the point that none puts by the curtain but him and so he has power over the image. The emotion he feels rarely breaks through. He appears totally cold. In contrast to Porphyria's lover who is impulsive, the duke appears to act deliberately and carefully. His anger surfaces as he describes his last duchess's reaction to an 'officious fool' who dared to offer her a bunch of cherries. The duke is outraged by his wife and expects his listener to agree. He is most offended that she smiled at servants 'as if she ranked my gift of a nine-hundred year old name with anyone's gift'. From this remark we see that he sees his status as most important. He has a very fixed idea of how he and his wife should behave; he will not 'stoop' and believes simply asking his wife not to 'smile' would be 'stooping'. He would prefer her dead. Both these poems manage to give a very strong sense of the characters of the women they have killed. ...read more.

Conclusion

Though both the duke and the lover kill there lovers they do so for different reasons. The duke because he does not like his wife enough. And the lover because he loves her too much. However both the duke and the lover appear mad. He loved her so much that he become obsessed 'she's mine, mine mine' which led him to become crazy and from becoming crazy he convinced himself that by killing her he was helping her. Whereas the duke had difficulty in coping with the attitude and personality of his wife. The duke is very cold he gave 'commands' he didn't even care about killing her he does not see her as human. He says 'then all smiles stopped together' and then he was satisfied. These poems are about love but pervert or corrupt the idea that love is good. Porphyria's lover's obsessive love where he wants to purify his love by taking her life gives a sense that love is a destructive rather than good. The duke does not appear capable of love and does not expect love but because his wife is capable of loving him and the rest of the world he feels resentment. ...read more.

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