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english poem essay

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Introduction

Connor Hills Compare the ways poets present powerful characters in ?My last duchess? and ?The river god? In ?my last duchess? and ?the river god? we find two characters that are powerful, possessive and want control over women. In ?my last duchess?, the duke implies that he killed his last duchess because he thought she was flirtatious with other men. In ?the river god? the narrator directly tells us that he killed a woman and now keeps her on his river bed. Neither of the male characters seems concerned about the death of these women. Both poems use possessive language to suggest how powerful the men are. In my last duchess, the duke controls who looks at the duchess?s portrait. He comments, ?none puts by / the curtain I have drawn for you, but I?, which suggests his possessive nature, and his need to control becomes more sinister when he says, ?I gave commands; / then all smiles stopped?. ...read more.

Middle

Both poems are dramatic monologues spoken by one single voice to an audience, which represents these characters well, being possessive and think of themselves first. The use of iambic pentameter in ?my last duchess? to mirror the dukes natural speech as he talks to the visitor. ?there she stands as if alive? this shows even though the duchess is dead he still believes she is alive. The speaker however contradicts that idea with the use of anthropomorphism ?passion of its earnest glance? so the duke when she was alive treated her as an object ?it?. Also the use of rhyming couplets could indicate the dukes social position but also his need to control women. The use of the rhyme creates a light-hearted mood, though the poem becomes increasingly sinister as the river god becomes more possessive. ...read more.

Conclusion

The poem could be written to show how the natural world can be dangerous at times or it could be to explore the balance of power in relationships between men and women. Similarly, the duke never mentions any grief or lost love at the death of his wife; instead he repeats ?as if she were alive?, perhaps suggesting that the duchess was just another possession even when she was living and now she is in a portrait he has total control over her. Both speakers in these poems seek power and control over women. They both want to possess women while not being interested in a human relationship with them and seem unconcerned by the reality of their death. However, the duke is human whereas the river god is a personified river, so his power could be seen as more natural than human effect. In contrast, the dukes power over the duchess and her portrait is emotionless the duke shows no emotion like it?s just ?another?. ...read more.

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