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Explore the themes of love and loss in the poems "My Last Duchess", "Shall I compare thee…?", "Let me not" and "Porphyria's Lover".

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Introduction

Explore the themes of love and loss in the poems "My Last Duchess", "Shall I compare thee...?", "Let me not" and "Porphyria's Lover". The four poems that I have chosen to address love and loss are "My Last Duchess" and "Porphyria's Lover" by Robert Browning, and "Shall I compare thee...?" and "Let me not" by William Shakespeare. Shakespeare's sonnets address eternal and true love, whereas Browning's poems explore the themes of passionate, consuming love and its consequences. Love can come in many different forms including true love, unfading love, eternal love, sexual love, platonic love and unrequited love. Feelings such as lust and infatuation can often be incorrectly identified as love, though that is not the case in these four poems, as even though all of the authors seem to be infatuated with the subjects of their poems to the point of obsession, there is also evidence in each of the poems that shows that they are in love to a certain extent. Loss has a wide number of definitions, including bereavement, failure and damage. Each of these types of loss are addressed in the four poems, mainly in "My Last Duchess" and "Porphyria's Lover". ...read more.

Middle

This natural exuberance was probably the issue that initiated her husband's malcontent, but it is more that likely that it was his own overpowering obsessive nature, that caused her love for him to fade, which is shown by Browning's use of the simple metaphor, "...My favour at her breast, The dropping of the daylight in the West..." The use of this poetic device shows that the Duke knows, or thinks that he knows, that she looks encouragingly at other people and that he resents how they are taking his place in her heart. It would be wrong to assume that narcissism is the only form of love in this poem, because although "My Last Duchess" doesn't show love in the same pure form as in the sonnets or in "Porphyria's Lover", it is made obvious that the Duke feels something for his late wife in the way that he is so obsessed with keeping her for himself. We are introduced to the Duke's new inamorata at the end of the poem, and it is again made clear that he feels a form of desire, but this time it is not solely for her person, but for her dowry, which again adds a superficial egotistical air to the poem. ...read more.

Conclusion

"Lov's not Times fool, though rosie lips and cheeks Within his bending sickles compasse come..." It is through this personification that he makes love immortal. Assonance and alliteration have also been used to imprint the facts about love firmly into the readers mind, "Which alters when it alteration findes, Or bends with the remover to remove." He has also used a hyperbole in the rhyming couplet at the end of the sonnet, "If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved." This makes it unequivocal that he is correct in his description of love, because he has written and man has always and always will love. In conclusion, I can say that the two poets look at very different aspects of love, with Browning focusing on a more unusual and somewhat less publicized infatuous obsession of love, and Shakespeare on the seemingly more traditional version of true, eternal love. Loss is more focussed on in Browning's poems than in the two sonnets, not only because of the subject matter, but also because of the nature of the love. From this I can say that love and loss are closely linked together, with loss being a direct consequence of the way that you handle love that you bear. Emily Taylor 11B Mr Tucker ...read more.

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