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How do Brownings poems - Porphyria's Lover and My Last Duchess - tell us about the position of women in previous centuries? Was this a reflection of Browning's personal view?

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Introduction

How do Brownings poems - Porphyria's Lover and My Last Duchess - tell us about the position of women in previous centuries? Was this a reflection of Browning's personal view? * Robert Browning's poems give us an insight into the way men considered women in previous centuries; and the conclusions are actually quite shocking. From 'My Last Duchess', it is made perfectly clear that the Duke considers his wives as little more than possessions that are able to be disposed of if less than perfect. He says at the beginning of the poem; 'That's my last Duchess painted on the wall, Looking as if she were alive'. He shows not a trace of remorse for his act and it is even as if the painting means more to him and is more valuable than his real wife when she were alive. ...read more.

Middle

This is backed up by his statement; '...I know not how - as if she ranked My gift of a nine-hundred-year-old name with anybody's gift.' When the Duchess begins to displease him, the Duke 'Gave his commands, and then all smiles stopped...' ; meaning he had her killed... If he truly considered her an equal he would not think it fine to dispose of her like a used tissue. This, backing up my theory that many man (if not the majority) living in previous centuries considered women as little more than objects. In the poem 'Porphyria's Lover' the lover would also rather keep her as a possession instead of the real her. He believes that because Porphyria has given him her heart, it automatically means that she has given him her life and fate to control. ...read more.

Conclusion

''And all night long we have not stirred, and yet God has not said a word!' Although Robert Browning writes believable and impressionable poems on the domination of women and the belief that they are merely possessions for men to rule, it is unlikely that the poems he wrote were based in anyway around his own feelings regarding women. Robert experienced a deep and true love towards Elizabeth Barret Browning, defying her father and eloping to Italy together and nursing her through poor health to her deaths bed in 1861. Their tale of love and romance, to me, does not sound remotely like a relationship surrounded by possessiveness...I personally think that Browning took it apon himself to open up both men and women's eyes to the inequality shown towards many females by men. * * * ...read more.

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