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Comparison of 'Mylast Duchess' and 'the lady of Shalott'

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Introduction

Poetry essay In this essay I am going to explore the comparisons of two pre 1914 poems both written during the Victorian era. I have chosen to compare 'My last duchess' by Robert Browning with 'The lady of Shalott' by Alfred lord Tennyson. Both of these poems share similar themes including power and possession. In 'My Last Duchess' we see the story of the Duke De Ferrara's relationship with his past wife unfold. The poem is set during the l Italian Renaissance in the late 1500's. The narrator (the Duke) is showing a tour around his artworks in his home when he comes upon a painting of his late wife who is left unnamed. The duke explains to his guest the story behind the picture. I think this poem is a fine example of dramatic monologue, typical for the likes of other Victorian works. Throughout the piece the character of the duke is portrayed through his persona. The Dukes dominance is recurrently evident throughout the poem simply in the way the text is presented. ...read more.

Middle

Once again the lady in this poem is unnamed which augments the view of her subordinate status. The lady's tower represents her inner personality where she keeps her thoughts safe and her ideas hidden away from the outside world. The mood in My Last Duchess is angry. The duke admits killing his wife ("I gave comman; Then all smiles stopped") and tries to justify this by explaining that his wife was unfaithful in that she look at other men in the same way she looked at him. As he tries to explain he appears rather arrogant "as if she ranked my gift of a nine hundred year old name with anybody's gift". He is embarrassed about his late wife and the portrait of her as it portrays her with a blushed face suggesting she was sexually aroused. Many people have commented on this fact and so this is why the picture is hidden away from view. ...read more.

Conclusion

Whereas My Last Duchess draws attention the Duchess. In The Lady Of Shalott it struck me that the lady's death was apparent early on with the use of words relating to death: "silent", "lilies", "reapers", "reaping", "funeral". I thought that the male character in this poem was depicted as a heroic and "bold sir Lancelot". This is quite the contrary to My Last Duchess, where the Duke is interpreted as a very proud and arrogant character. In language and structure the poems differ greatly. My Last Duchess displays Brownings' familiar use of dramatic monologue. The rhythm of the poem is iambic pentameter. The Lady Of Shalot however has a regular rhythm of the structure aaaabcccb used in every stanza throughout the piece. In reading these two poems I have learnt much about the Victorian style of writing and about its society. Both poems use similar themes i.e. death, sin and reflect the presentation of women and the possessive nature of men. James Reynolds ...read more.

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