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How does Robert Browning use the dramatic monologue to portray madness in his poems

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Introduction

How does Robert Browning use the dramatic monologue to portray madness in his poems "My Last Duchess" and "Porphyria's Lover"? A dramatic monologue is when a character in a piece of writing speaks their thoughts and feelings out loud. It is used because it gives an insight into the persons mind. Browning chose this form for the two poems because it makes the poem feel more realistic and you know everything the character is feeling it also subconsciously makes the reader feel certain emotions towards particular characters. The poems reflect the Victorian mind by talking about madness. During the Victorian era madness was considered taboo- respectable people did not speak of it whether in public or in private, but thought about them all the same. Victorians had to repress sexual emotions as it was considered to be highly disrespectful to yourself. Victorians loved to read and as it was wrong for them to talk about madness, sex and violence, they would read about it instead, this was a way of liberating the repressed emotions. Victorians were allowed to read about the subjects because it is not them who is in the wrong it is the characters in the story. The same applies to writing about taboo subjects - if you made out that it is somebody else doing it then it is acceptable. Browning's readers would have been most interested in the violence and madness in these poems, as there is no reference to sex in them. ...read more.

Middle

The Duke felt jealous of the townspeople because he could not make her smile as much as they could. "Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt, Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without Much the same smile?" From this quotation it is obvious that the Duke is jealous, he says to the emissary that, yes she smiled at him when he went by, but she smiled at everyone else too. This made the Duke feel that he was nothing special. The Duke is looking for another wife, someone pretty who would not be as open to showing her emotions. This shows that the Duke is very shallow and only had his last wife as someone to put on him arm, as another one of his possessions. Browning shows his readers the extremity of his views by the Duke blatantly telling the emissary to ask the Count for his daughter's hand in marriage. He doesn't want someone to love he wants someone else on his arm, preferably the Count's daughter. "The Count your master's known munificence Is ample warrant that no just pretense Of mine for dowry will be disallowed; Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed At starting is my object." This quotation shows that the Count will let the Duke marry his daughter even though the Count may be well aware of the circumstances in which the Duke's last wife had the misfortune to be in. In the poem I think that the point at which the poet makes it clear that the speaker is mad is when the Duke tells the Emissary that he keeps the Duchess's picture behind a curtain. ...read more.

Conclusion

This quotation shows two points. The first that the speaker is mad as he has sat there all night with the dead woman's head on his shoulder and he has not moved. This is obviously strange behaviour. The second point links with the first, he has killed his lover and doesn't feel as if he has done anything wrong because he thinks God would have punished him by now if he had. Putting these two points together we can and therefore conclude that the speaker is mad. The speakers in the poems are both similar in the fact that they both had their lovers killed and felt no remorse. They were also obsessed with possessions, the Duke more so. They are different because Porphyria's lover murdered her himself and felt a twang of guilt which quickly passed as he convinced himself she was peaceful. Both are affected by attitudes to women as Porphyria could not leave her husband for her lover because she would be disrespected, and the Duke was affected because he only saw his wife a possession not a real person. In these two poems I think Browning was trying to show his readers how badly women were treated and looked upon. I think he was trying to help women get more respect and display all the things that they couldn't do because they were the property of the men. I also think he was trying to show that looks can be deceiving; never judge a book by its cover, the duke and lover seemed to be sane but when you study them a bit closer you see the pages of the book inside. Yasmine Jandu 11JR ...read more.

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