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Poetry Coursework

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Introduction

How are the relationships between men and women represented in "My Last Duchess", "First Love" and "How do I love thee"? The poems "My Last Duchess" (1842), by Robert Browning, "First Love", (1821), by John Clare and "How do I love thee" (1850), by Elizabeth Barrett Browning are all concerned with the relationships between men and women. These poems all portray the relationships in different ways and present love and the consequences falling in love has, in different ways. In the first poem "My Last Duchess", the Duke is in control as he is a very proud man. The Duke is very confident and this makes him arrogant. The relationship in this poem is portrayed as unequal and it is dominated by pride and not love. The Duke speaks very formally, this links with his power and pride; he also doesn't show any emotion in his words. In the second poem "First Love", the woman is in control and the man is broken hearted because his first love is over, and it has not been sustained. It is unrequited love because of this the relationship is ambiguous. The poem "How do I love thee" presents a positive relationship. The woman reinforces how much she loves him, and nothing can get in the way. It is written in the form of a sonnet, which is a traditional form of love poems. "My Last Duchess" begins with the speaker showing off the portrait of the Duchess. "That's my last Duchess painted on the wall, looking as if she were alive. I call, that piece a wonder, now". The Duke is addressing his guest and it almost feels like he is speaking to the reader. This quote shows the Duke's love for the painting of his Duchess, through these words it sounds like he is almost praising her. In "My Last Duchess" the Duke talks in a formal tone, like he is proud or sure of himself. ...read more.

Middle

The poet doesn't know if he will ever love again, he feels rejected and it's painful for him as his young and inexperienced. "And when she looked, what could I ail?" The man doesn't know what's wrong with him, he is confused again. John Clare's first love, Mary Joyce was the daughter of a wealthy farmer, their separation caused Clare great pain and it contributed to the sense of loss which pervades much of his poetry. In 1837, John Clare was admitted to a mental asylum in High Beach, Epping because he had financial worries and other problems that put tremendous strain on his mind. However, he escaped from the Asylum in 1841, and walked home under the delusion that he would be reunited with Mary Joyce. A few months later he entered Northamptonshire General Asylum, where he lived for the rest of his life, still writing poems when his mental health permitted. The asylum poems are among his best known works, but the haunting descriptions of rural landscapes in poems such as "Decay" and "Remembrances" are more typical of the true character of his poetic voice. In the poems the attitudes vary and different expectations about the relationship between men and women are presented in the poems. In "First Love" the mood is bleak and barren, but in "How do I love thee?" the relationship is overly pleasant and there is a sense of gleeful love. "My Last Duchess" is rather different from the other two poems as it is unemotional and the Duke doesn't show he is mournful towards his last Duchess but instead he boasts that she is gone. The Duke speaks in the poem "My Last Duchess" and he is addressing an envoy. The Duke is having a conversation with the envoy trying to organise a marriage. However, he ends up hypothesising how the conversation went between Fra Pandolf and his wife. ...read more.

Conclusion

Perhaps the Duke felt lonely and like she had betrayed him. As the poem continues we realise that the Duke in fact caused the Duchess's early demise. "When her behaviour escalated, I gave commands, and then all smiles stopped together". The Duke shows he has bad feelings towards the Duchess, but he is still cheerful and being boastful about everything. "First Love" was a rather ambiguous poem where John Clare saw a beautiful woman and he felt for the first time the emotion of love. He went in to great detail and described how his emotions were in total turmoil and left him unable to walk. "My legs refused to walk away". The girl has a real physical effect on the man. The poem "How do I love thee?" presented a positive relationship. The woman reinforces how much she loves him, and nothing can get in the way. Elizabeth Barrett Browning is realistic about love and this makes the poem even more powerful. The poet explores her feelings and shows a lot of emotional confidence. It's like she is trying to convey her love towards the man in a serious but passionate way. The poems "My Last Duchess", "First Love" and "How do I love thee" are all concerned with the relationships between men and women. The poems all portray the relationships in different ways and present love and the consequences falling in love has, in different ways. The language and imagery created gets the reader involved in the poems. The social, culture and historical context all play a part in how the poem is presented. In "My Last Duchess", the Duke is a proud man, he is confident and very arrogant, and the relationship is portrayed as unequal and is dominated by pride and not love. In "First Love", the woman is in control and the man is broken hearted because his first love is over, and it has not been sustained. It is unrequited. The poem "How do I love thee" presents a positive relationship and the woman reinforces how much she loves the man. ...read more.

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