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Comparison between Porphyria’s Lover and My Last Duchess.

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Introduction

Poetry Essay Comparison between Porphyria's Lover and My Last Duchess. In Porphyria's Lover, Browning sets the scene by describing the turbulent weather. The vexatious wind blowing on the trees and the moody lake is a metaphor of the Lover's mind in the poem. It symbolises the violence and anger he has within himself. The Lover is full of hatred inside. The bad weather images is like an omen or a forewarning of what's to come. Maybe it's also his insecurities and fears as well as anger - how he's waiting for Porphyria, and fears she will not come. There's a sense of changing of scene after the first four lines describing the weather, which is like an outside circumstance. Once Porphyria enters the cottage in which the lover lives, she 'shut the cold out and the storm' (Line 7). From then on, the outside world is forgotten about. We know that the lover lives in a cottage (Line 9), while Porphyria has just come from a 'gay feast'. This tells us their difference in rank, Porphyria is obviously of a high social rank than her lover. The word Porphyria is the name of a precious jewel, this suggests that she is rich. We have the sense of Porphyria, stepping down her rank when she makes the fire as this is the kind of job usually done by the servant : ' And kneeled and made the cheerless grate Blaze up, and all the cottage warm ' Fire symbolises warmth and brightness but it could also mean destruction too. So, like the bad weather outside, the fire is in a way like another warning of what is to happen. It's clever how Browning puts the words 'Blaze up' at the beginning of the line. This makes the words sound like what's happening i.e. the noise of the fire, the room brightened up by the fire. ...read more.

Middle

The Duke remembers her by lovely innocent images described in Line 26-30 : 'The dropping of the daylight in the West, The bough of cherries some officious fool Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule She rode with round the terrace ..' The Duchess was a beautiful woman, but to the Duke's mind she had too little pride. He was frequently offended by her courtesy to other of lower rank, and he found her too easily pleased by a compliment or by a small favour from a servant or some other 'unimportant' person. '.......Oh sir, he smiled, no doubt, Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without Much the same smile?' The Duke felt that she should derive pleasure essentially only from himself and that she should glory in the high social rank which she had married into. He's jealous of everything she enjoys, angry by her happiness, her simple pleasures. He thinks that she didn't value his aristocratic background ( as if she ranked my gift of a nine hundred year old name with anybody's gift. Line 32-34 ). He was unhappy because she did not pay him the respect he felt he deserved, and because she seemed to smile at everything and found joy in the most innocent things ( Line 26-30, as quoted above ). The Duke is a man who is clearly an aristocrat and used to having authority and being obeyed. He is a man who could have told his wife how to behave but his arrogance could not lower himself to tell her because he thinks that this is beneath him ( I choose never to stoop ). He became more and more annoyed with it ( 'This grew;') and so he took action, or 'gave commands'. The exact nature of the commands is not made clear, but whatever they were, the Duchess is gone ( all smiles stopped together ), most likely dead. ...read more.

Conclusion

There's also enjambement in the poem - sense of sentence running on to the next line : 'Looking as if se were alive. I call That piece a wonder ' Browning also uses enjambement very effectively in Line 16 : ' ............to say 'Her mantle laps Over my lady's wrist too much' The sentence runs on to the beginning of the next line and echoes the effect of the cloth falling over her wrist, it's acting out what the words are describing. The enjambement makes the rhyme less obvious and so it's not drawn to our attention. The rhyme keeps the structure of the poem while the enjambement has a more natural effect. This is just like the Duke in the poem, he lives life by regularity, his life is in a very controlled pattern, very regular and formal, just like the couplets. He's had emotional things that he can't tolerate, and the shift in enjambement disturbs the formality of his life. The effect of enjambement disguises the fact that the Duke lives by rules. When you read the poem, you have to change the way you say it and might need to take some time to try and get the stresses in the right place because of the effect of enjambement. My Last Duchess is like a play, and the pentameter line helps to make it seem like a story. You'll notice that both poems is only in one stanza. In My Last Duchess, this effect makes the poem seem like half story and half poem. It seems like a story because it's all in one stanza and it seems like a poem because it has rhymes. Because it has no separate stanzas, it has no interruption. Porphyria's Lover also only has only one stanza, but its five line groups is quite odd and signals the strangeness of the events in the situation in Porphyria's Lover. The events in Porphyria's Lover are more disturbed and distorted than My last Duchess. ...read more.

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